The Hartford Ski Spectacular 2015: Fun on the Slopes and Ice

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The program for the 2015 The Hartford Ski Spectacular, held November 30-December 6 at Beaver Run Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado, was packed with activities that participants could choose from. Starting at 8 a.m. and extending into the evening hours, there were alpine ski and snowboard lessons for all ages and ability levels, Nordic ski and biathlon lessons, a race camp, free sled hockey and curling clinics, banquets, and other après-ski activities.

Adaptive tennis player in action

A ski coach (in the middle) and two participants practice their skills on the slope. Photograph by Ken Watson, courtesy of DSUSA.

Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) hosted more than 800 attendees from across the country and the United Kingdom, including 100 wounded warriors and their family members. The event is now in its 28th year, with The Hartford as the title sponsor for 22 years. DSUSA received great news when The Hartford signed on for another three years.

Bruce Daugherty of Colorado Springs, Colorado, spent three days at the Ski Spectacular. He underwent a right transtibial amputation in 2010, a decision made due to the lifelong pain and increasing impairment of a club foot. In 2014 he went to the event alone, for one day, he said. This time he extended his stay, brought his family, and broadened his sporting horizons. He and his children tried Nordic skiing, and the children, especially, had fun, Daugherty said, adding that he prefers snowboarding.

Participant tries sit skiing

Event participants had the opportunity to try sit skiing. Photograph by Reed Hoffmann, courtesy of DSUSA.

"I had a great snowboarding instructor through the BOEC [Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center]," Daugherty said. "I was able to build on what I learned last year...." He improved his skills so much during his two-and-a-half hour lesson that he was able to shorten his run time from 24 minutes to about 15 minutes.

Daugherty also tried sled hockey and "totally enjoyed it." There is a learning curve with maintaining balance on the sled, using the paddles, cornering, and gaining speed, though, he said. His willingness to try something new netted him a spot on Colorado Springs' Warrior Avs sled hockey team. The group that hosted the clinic is affiliated with the team and invited him to join.

"I don't know where sled hockey is going to go [for me], but I'm just going to play with it and have fun," he said.

Dates for the 2016 The Hartford Ski Spectacular have not been determined.