Ski Spectacular serves more than 800 with disabilities |

Ski Spectacular serves more than 800 with disabilities

At a previous year of The Hartford Ski Spectacular, Jesse Llamas learns on a monoski with instructor John Swartwood (also on mono).
Reed Hoffmann | Reed Hoffmann

Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) will host the 23rd annual The Hartford Ski Spectacular Dec. 5-12 at Beaver Run Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort.

The event is the nation’s largest winter sports festival for individuals with physical disabilities, planning to bring more than 800 participants ranging in ability from first-time skiers to members of the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team (USAST). Also attending will be more than 100 wounded warriors and their families.

One of the many youths participating will be Ornichleel (Le-all) Ulysse, 10 from Port au Prince, Haiti, who had her right leg amputated below the knee due to an injury in the January earthquake there.

The event is sponsored by The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., the founding partner of U.S. Paralympics.

“For the 17th consecutive year, The Hartford is proud to sponsor this important program that’s been a birthplace of U.S. Paralympic champions,” said Ron Gendreau, executive vice president of group benefits at The Hartford. “The Hartford’s Ability Philosophy will be displayed by the wounded warriors learning to ski, youth skiers improving their racing abilities, and U.S. Paralympians demonstrating their elite skills at this amazing event. We hope Le-all and all who hit the slopes at The Hartford Ski Spectacular will be inspired as much as they inspire us. They help us see that people with disabilities can do anything.”

Programs offered at The Hartford Ski Spectacular help to strengthen and expand adaptive ski programs in communities throughout the U.S., identify and train youth, wounded warriors and others with disabilities who strive to be winter Paralympians. The programs also help local DSUSA chapters improve their services.

A week of ski race training, sponsored by U.S. Paralympics, prepares athletes for the 2011 U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Championships in Alyeska, Alaska, the 2011 World Championships in Sestriere, Italy, and 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The ski instructor academy endorsed by Professional Ski Instructors of America-American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) offers training for instructors in the latest and safest adaptive ski techniques for skiers with disabilities. “Learn-to” programs in alpine and Nordic skiing, Biathlon and snowboarding are also offered. Chapter training programs in administration, fundraising, social networking and volunteer training rounds out the agenda.

“Once again, we are proud to partner with The Hartford and have the support of U.S. Paralympics and others to offer this premier event for people with disabilities from more than 30 states … and five foreign countries,” said Kirk Bauer, executive director of DSUSA. “The premier facilities of Breckenridge Ski Resort and Beaver Run Resort allow us to offer this wide range of activities to our participants.”

Bauer, a disabled Vietnam veteran, recently scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro with two wounded warriors who received their first sports training at The Hartford Ski Spectacular.

“DSUSA and their chapters are a critical partner in meeting the need to provide daily physical activity for persons with physical and visual disabilities in communities throughout the U.S.,” said Charlie Huebner, chief of Paralympics, United States Olympic Committee. “The Hartford Ski Spectacular creates that spark for people with a physical disability to return home and live an active, healthy life.”

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