Ski for Light returns to Granby, Colorado
“If I can do this, I can do anything!”
Leslee Lane Hoyum
There is nothing better than the peaceful sound of your cross-country skis gliding along pristine snow tracks breaking the silence of a snow-filled park surrounded by mountains whispering their awesome presence. Or perhaps there is one thing better—sharing it with someone. Ski for Light offers you that opportunity.
For 42 years Ski for Light has partnered sighted, non-disabled cross-country ski guides with visually- and mobility-impaired skiers, whether novice or experienced. Ski for Light trains guides and pairs skiers with guides based on a variety of factors, including ability, age, conditioning, and experience. The partnerships often become life-long friendships and forever transform their lives.
This year it’s your turn to participate, whether you’re a potential guide or a beginning or experienced skier with visual or mobility impairments. It’s time to become inspired and enjoy nature and new friends as you never have before. The 2017 event will be held at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado, from Feb. 5 through Feb. 12. It’s just an application away at www.sfl.org/events/next.
You may wonder why the organization is called Ski for Light. First we need to look back at the founder of Ski for Light’s Norwegian sister group, Erling Stordahl. Blind himself, he never focused on blindness or the absence of light, rather he focused on the unknown and enlightenment. He looked into his Norwegian culture and was reminded of a legend about a knight who was being chased by some very evil men. He came to a ravine not knowing whether he could cross it safely, but he took a leap of faith and succeeded. He named his newly established ski event Ridderrennet, or the Knight’s Race.
Stordahl equated the knight’s dilemma with human struggle. He felt it was important to try things even if we thought success was doubtful. He felt that by pushing ourselves we often discover a previously unknown strength or ability deep within us that helps lead us to success. It illustrates Stordahl’s idea of the metaphorical struggle of moving from ignorance to enlightenment.
Former Ski for Light President Bud Keith explained that the same holds true for cross-country skiing. Visually- and mobility-impaired individuals are enabled to ski from not knowing the limits of their abilities to learning that they are, indeed, able to do much more than they imagined. But it’s not only the skier who learns this valuable lesson. It holds true for the guide as well.
At its first event in 1975, Ski for Light was called Race for Light, but the name was changed in 1976 to emphasize the program’s recreational nature, while still focusing on Stordahl’s vision of en“light”enment. It was incorporated as a nonprofit, and participants with disabilities became involved in shaping its direction in subsequent years.
Ski for Light was and is nurtured by countless individuals and groups. It took root in the United States as a program that makes a difference in the lives of its guides and participants. For all who participate, the Ski for Light motto, “If I can do this, I can do anything!” becomes abundantly clear. Make 2017 your year to become involved.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 21, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.