Skiers refuse to let disabilities keep them off the slopes

Skylar Derin uses a sit and ski to ride down the hill at Mission Ridge Winter Park. Sarah Kraus / Global News

Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask. – Skylar Derin can’t walk, but on Saturday she flew down the slopes at the local ski hill.

The 18-year-old has cerebral palsy, and has been confined to a wheelchair most of her life. However, thanks to some dedicated volunteers, she’s now an avid skier.

Skylar’s father, Brant Derin, said volunteers are integral to his daughter’s enjoyment of the sport.

“They have to go through a program themselves to be certified and it’s lots of work to hold the sit-and-ski,” he said.

Brandt said winter presents a number of challenges for moving Skylar around in her wheelchair. He takes her to the mall sometimes, but wheeling through the snow and ice is tough. That’s why he’s thankful his daughter can ski every other weekend.

“This is one of my favourite sports to get out of the house and participate in,” Skylar said.

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Skylar has made friends with many other people in the adaptive ski program. Some of them joined her Saturday in the 9th annual Sasktel Challenge Cup.

“They know what you’re going through, because they’re doing the exact same thing,” she said.

The event partners those overcoming physical or mental obstacles with a group of able-bodied skiers and snowboarders.

“It’s important for the general public to see what people with disabilities can do,” said race chief Gord Poulton.

The adaptive ski program is able to provide athletes like Skylar with a $6,000 sit-ski for the season.

The cost to be part of the adaptive ski program is $180, including a season pass to Mission Ridge Winter Park.

Organizers hope to raise $4,000 to help people with various disabilities.

“It is very expensive to buy equipment for disabled athletes and this is our major fundraiser,” Poulton said. “We have people with spinal cord injuries, that have acquired them or been born with that problem, amputees missing a foot or a leg. We have some people who are mentally challenged and people with CP.”

Skylar knows her skiing is also important to her father.

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“He’s very proud to see how far I’ve come. I know I’m getting better every single time I do this.”

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