Mountain Creek Adds Adaptive Sports Program


As thousands of resort visitors enjoyed ideal spring skiing conditions, a special visitor named Nick Cerrato made history by being the first Vernon resident to enjoy the Sugar Slope as a student of the program. of adapted sports in Mountain Creek, which made it possible to keep a promise. to Nick made four years earlier by two local skiers, Buffy and John Whiting.
In 2014, a promise was made to take on the challenge of exploring what it would take to develop an adaptive ski program so he and other special athletes could ski. With the discovery that there was no official program available at Mountain Creek that would meet Nick’s needs, an effort was launched to start a suitable ski program at the resort so that he could fulfill his dream of to ski. On Friday, March 23, that promise made to Nick was kept.
In 2014, with the blessing of Mountain Creek ownership and President Bill Benneyan, a plan was developed and approved detailing the steps needed to make Nick’s dream a reality and deliver on the promise made by the Whitings.
Following a change in ownership and management, new Mountain Creek owner Jeff Koffman and resort president Joe Hession recommitted to the program to provide the support needed to make the program a success. A group of local skiers, including David Rowan, Charles Wallace, John Swartwood, Dan Monzo, Buffy Whiting, John Whiting, joined by resort employees Tim Stone and Suzanne Ebling, organized themselves into the committee’s adaptive sports program Mountain Creek Advisory and took on the responsibility of applying to the IRS for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. The request was approved in July 2016.
A relationship has been established between Mountain Creek Resort and Helen Hayes Hospital for Rehabilitation. It was determined that the day-to-day operations of the program and delivery of program services would be the responsibility of the Mountain Creek Operating Committee Adaptive Sports Program, including Tim Stone, Director of the Resort’s Snow Sports School and Eileen Andreassi, Director of Recreational Therapy. at Helen Hayes Hospital.
With the formalization of Mountain Creek Resort and the Helen Hayes Hospital partnership, administrative policies, programs and operational plans were developed and recruitment of instructors and volunteers for the program began. To help provide financial support for the program, donations have been made by attendees of the annual Hidden Valley Closed Golf Classic and other contributors.
Under the expert guidance of Mountain Creek Adaptive Sports Program Founder and Board Member John Swartwood, a PSIA Adaptive Instructor and Examiner training of volunteers and instructors was conducted. This included meetings and on-snow training sessions with instructors and volunteers over a two-year training period to ensure safe, fun and enjoyable teaching for those special athletes like Nick Cerrato and others who were eager discover the pleasure associated with skiing and snowboarding.
In conjunction with training efforts and under the direction of Tim Stone and John Swartwood, an assessment was made of the necessary adaptations in snowmaking, grooming and uphill operations to enable the special athletes served by the program to s Engage safely in the program, get on and off the chairlifts and have fun on the slopes.
After four years of hard work from the Mountain Creek Team Adaptive Sports program, it all fell into place on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. when Nick Cerrato and his mom Patti arrived in Mountain Creek for his scheduled on-snow session.
After orientation and preparation for the session, the instruction team then drove Nick to the base of the Sugar Ski Slope where he was transferred from his wheelchair to the Bi-ski which would transport him to the ski slope . The group then headed to the chairlift to load Nick onto the chair using the techniques they had practiced time and time again to ensure his safe use of the chairlift.
Upon arriving at the top of the Sugar Slope, the real fun began. It was a dream come true for Nick as he was guided down the slope by his team of instructors who controlled the direction and speed of the Bi-ski by a tether connected to the sled while other members of the team provided a perimeter. space to ensure the safety of Nick and other skiers enjoying the descents on the slopes.
Friday, March 23 will be a special day of memories for Nick, those responsible for starting the adaptive sports program at Mountain Creek and the trained instructors who worked so hard to make the day possible. It is hoped that the fun on the snow enjoyed by Nick will be duplicated by many other special athletes young and old who have a desire to experience the fun and joy associated with skiing and riding at the Resort, and that the program will eventually be expanded to include summer activities including hiking, horseback riding and other recreational activities offered by Mountain Creek Resort.
At the end of this historic start-up session, Nick received a certificate of achievement to commemorate this special day and recognize the importance of starting the adaptive sports program in Mountain Creek. The session was so fun and the program so successful that Nick scheduled a second visit to the ski slopes.
— Story and photos courtesy of John Whiting


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