Wounded veterans to hit the slopes | SierraSun.com

Wounded veterans to hit the slopes

Courtesy photo by Melanie Rainey Ryan Hollins, a U.S. Marine from Shasta, Calif., who lost his leg during the war in Iraq, waterskis at an adaptive sports summer camp for injured veterans. Disabled Sports USA will host this week's event with the Tahoe Adaptive Ski School at Alpine Meadows.

U.S. Army soldier Andy Soule, 25, was in Afghanistan for just two months when he lost both of his legs to an improvised explosive device. Kortney Clemons, 25, was in Baghdad 11 months before losing one of his by a similar lethal contraption. The two men are now participating in adaptive sports therapy programs at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Disabled athletes participate in sports, such as sitting volleyball and hand cycling, that rehabilitate both the bodies and spirits of the military’s damaged men.”The frustration [of my amputation] comes from the inconvenience, but it has allowed me to do a lot of things that I haven’t done before,” Clemons said. “And actually, the good outweighs the bad.”

Now Soule, Clemons and fellow wounded soldiers have the opportunity to do even more.This week Tahoe Adaptive Ski School and Disabled Sports USA will host nine soldiers, most of whom have lost limbs to improvised bombs, at a four-day winter sports camp that gets participants off their crutches, out of their wheelchairs and onto the slopes.Participants at the event, which runs Thursday through Sunday at Alpine Meadows, will have the opportunity to snowboard, alpine ski, nordic ski, and play sled hockey with a group of volunteers and trained instructors.”Many disabled people are not [at first] interested in participating in wheelchair sports; they want to ride a regular bike and ski on regular skis, and there is a lot of denial,” said Wendy Gumbert, sports program development manager for Blaze Sports, a national disabled sports organization. “These programs give them the role models that help them to be aware that these are still serious, competitive sports.”

Adaptive skiing started in 1942, when an Austrian, who had his leg amputated, attached small skis to his crutches and resumed his favorite pastime. The sport got a boost 25 years later when veterans of the U.S. Army’s Tenth Mountain Division were organized to teach a group of disabled Vietnam vets how to ski.- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

YOU CAN HELPTahoe Adaptive Ski School581-4161http://www.dsusafw.org/sports.html

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