By Laurel Dudley
Oliver Taylor was four when his family discovered adaptive skiing. He had a hard time walking due to a neurodevelopmental disorder, and at the time, in 2015, would often lose his balance and fall to the ground.
Even getting from the parking lot to the base lodge, bundled in ski gear was a herculean effort for the Taylors, especially for his mom, Tania. “I’d get to the lodge after holding him up the entire way and think, ‘Phew, that’s it, we’re done for the day!’ ” she said.
But when they found Ogden Valley Adaptive Sports at Snowbasin, it felt like the perfect fit. They had access to more convenient parking spots, which made getting to the lessons on the slopes so much easier. The attention and consistency of the OVAS staff, whom the Taylors would eventually call an extension of their family, was the best part.
This past December, on their fifth week-long visit to Snowbasin, Oliver was nine. His eyes widened when he saw the familiar burly mass in a bright orange coat. It was his favorite instructor, Dusty.
Dusty usually took Oliver out in the sit-ski, but today was different. He snapped Oliver’s boots into skis. If Oliver was nervous, he didn’t let on. The 300-foot stretch known as the magic carpet buzzed with kids, all first-time skiers, who stuck their arms out and glided cautiously down the nearly flat incline, occasionally falling and getting scooped up by an adult. Oliver’s mom, Tania, watched from the side. She recalled how Oliver couldn’t stay upright his last time out. This time, she thought he’d make two laps.
He made three.
“I’m so proud of you buddy!” she said. Oliver smiled and leaned in for a hug, skis and all.
The second half of the lesson took place at Little Cat, the beginners’ lift. Oliver sat in the bucket seat attached atop two skis, known as the bi-ski. With Dusty’s help, he skied the mountain alongside his mom, dad and younger brother.
“There aren’t many of these things,” said Oliver’s father, Phil. “But this is something we can all do together.”
By the end of the week, Oliver, a normally quiet kid, was chatting away, and even telling knock knock jokes to instructor Dusty. Mom Tania said, “I wish we could bottle this up and take it home!”
They’re looking forward to coming back next year.