By Laurel Dudley

“1, 2, 3, BOOM!”

That’s what 13-year-old Sam Dingman told his parents after his first OVAS ski lesson. The moment was significant for several reasons, one of them being that Sam has Down syndrome.

Sam Practicing

Not only is speaking hard for him, but also are activities that require leg strength. Sam demonstrated what he had learned as he spoke. BOOM marked the moment his instructor, Carrie, wanted him to angle his skis into a wedge and stop.

Sam’s mom, Tausha, and dad, Doug, were thrilled. This was the first time Sam had been independently upright on skis. And from the smile on his face, they knew he wanted to go again.

Sam Skiing

Tausha and Doug grew up skiing at Snow Basin. They had taught their three older children to ski but until this year didn’t think Sam was ready for the sport.

A family friend had previously shown them how to ski with Sam wrapped between their legs but that didn’t seem sustainable, especially as Sam grew bigger. Tausha and Doug thought that Sam should at least try to be independent. That mindset was another reason they fell in love with OVAS. Even though Sam wanted to hold his instructors’ hands and ski into them to stop, the instructors repeatedly encouraged him to try it on his own. Sure enough, he did.

Sam

Tausha and Doug have long hoped for a day when their whole family can do a winter activity together. Although Sam will probably never ski difficult runs, said Tausha, “at least if he wants to be out there [on the mountain] and ski a little bit; we would love that!” Sam’s progress has even trickled out to his 80-year-old grandfather. After hearing about the lessons, he told Tausha he’ll have to “dust off my skis” and join the fun.