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Blind and Visually Impaired Skiers Attend 13th Annual Winter Ski Festival at Pico Mountain

Posted February 6, 2020  Press Releases | Skiing

U.S. Association of Blind Athletes and Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports host largest gathering in the nation

KILLINGTON, Vt. (Feb. 7, 2020) – The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is pleased to partner with Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports to host the 13th annual Winter Ski Festival at Pico Mountain, Feb. 8-9. For more than a decade, USABA and Vermont Adaptive have worked together to coordinate an event where Americans who are blind and visually impaired can participate in alpine skiing, snowboarding and Nordic skiing. The event continues to be the largest annual gathering in the United States for skiers and snowboarders who are blind and visually impaired.

This year, 33 participants, including three military veterans will attend. In some cases, participants will be attending this ski camp as their first time skiing without sight. Others have made it a yearly winter highlight on their calendars, such as Kyle Robidoux, 44, of Boston, Mass., who will be attending his fifth Winter Ski Festival, along with his wife, daughter and several friends.

At age 11, Robidoux was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative eye disease that first affects your night vision and often leads to complete blindness. He was declared legally blind at 19.

“I stopped skiing when my vision began to decrease more rapidly,” said Robidoux. “I attended the USABA/Vermont Adaptive Winter Ski Festival five years ago and skiing with guides helped me fall back in love with skiing. It empowers me to ski to my ability and I enjoy being outside with my friends and family.”

Participants will ski at Pico Mountain on Saturday and Sunday with an option to practice Nordic skiing or snowshoeing on Sunday at Mountain Meadows Cross Country Ski Area. On Saturday, participants can practice with Vermont Adaptive’s auditory rifle system, the same system used for competition in Nordic Combined in the Paralympics. On Sunday, Nordic skiers can put their lesson into action while on skis.

Vermont Adaptive’s team of highly trained instructors will work with attendees to learn to ski or improve skills. Many participants who are returning will have the same volunteer instructors as in past years. More than 100 people will be in attendance for the weekend, including volunteer instructors, participants, family members, and friends.

In addition to skiing and winter activities, the festival includes a Friday night welcome party, a Saturday night banquet, and dinner as a group on Sunday.

Media Contacts:
Bill Kellick
U.S. Association of Blind Athletes

Kim Jackson
Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports