The Mountain Times

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Blind athletes celebrate the 5th Annual Winter Ski Festival at Pico Mountain

KILLINGTON-Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports recently announced that it will host The United States Association of Blind Athletes' (USABA) Fifth Annual Winter Ski Festival Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11-12 at Pico. Athletes with visual impairment will be given the opportunity to alpine and/or nordic ski, while spending a weekend here in the Green Mountains.

This year, a group of seven Veterans will also be joining the festivities. The USABA Military Sport Program works to enhance the lives of disabled Veterans and Service Members who are blind or visually impaired and to accelerate their rehabilitation process through sport, physical activity and recreation; as well as assist in the integration of those individuals back into their local community. Military Sport Program Coordinator Rich Cardillo explained, "The USABA Military Sport Program is all about giving disabled Veterans and disabled Service Members who are blind or visually impaired a sporting chance in bringing normalcy back into their lives."

USABA, in conjunction with Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, is proud to offer this recreational opportunity to individuals with visual impairments. The event is open to all ages, all abilities and all ski levels.

Guides and instructors are provided by Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, the largest year-round disabled sports non-profit organization in Vermont, which is committed to empowering individuals with disabilities. Vermont Adaptive will pair each blind or visually impaired skier with a trained ski guide to practice and learn ski or race. Alpine skiing will be hosted at Pico Mountain in Killington, Vt.; while Nordic will be at Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden, Vt.

"USABA is extremely pleased to partner with Vermont Adaptive to provide an opportunity for blind and visually impaired skiers, including military service members and veterans with eye injuries, to further develop and enhance their alpine and Nordic skiing skills," said Mark Lucas, USABA's executive director.  "Now in its fifth year, the event has really taken shape with meet-and-greet receptions, alpine and Nordic skiing sessions, a banquet, and a biathlon demonstration with sonar laser rifle scope. Last year, athletes were very receptive to learning about the biathlon and getting the opportunity to shoot. We expect this year to have an even better turn out. We're looking forward to hosting our blind or visually impaired athletes again this year."

Participants will stay at Cortina Inn and Resort and are provided transportation for the daily events. The weekend will conclude with a banquet dinner held at the Cortina Inn.

Tagged: Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, USABA