Sit skiing has taught Kate Swain, 25, a lot about life, both how she approaches it and how to live it. A country girl from Tamworth, Kate’s been a paraplegic since five years of age after a car accident and took up sit skiing at 16 years of age on a school excursion. Since then she has skied in Australia at Perisher and Falls Creek and also in Myoko, Japan.
Here she reveals the 10 things that sit skiing has taught her.
Don’t be afraid to try new and different things
Sit skiing has simply changed my life. I am more willing to go outside of my comfort zone now and to try new things. It has allowed me to have some amazing experiences including going over jumps, skiing in and out of trees, and jumping into deep powder. All with a gigantic smile that lasts long after the snow has stopped falling.
Set and smash goals
Then smash some more! Sure it takes persistence and practice but goals have kept me focused. My ultimate and long-term goal is to improve my sit skiing and gain more independence on snow. I’ve already smashed my short-term goals, which has improved my confidence. I started off being bucketed (instructor holding on and doing all the work), progressed to tethering (ropes attached for guidance) and with continued persistence and practice will one day be skiing without any guidance.
Expect the unexpected
I love to plan but the unexpected does happen. Good or bad, it teaches me something. I never expected on my second day ever sit skiing at Perisher to be riding over jumps and into the half pipe, and to actually love it.
Trust in others
Easier to say, however trusting someone guiding me whilst sitting in a sit ski on the top of the mountain isn’t easy. I have learnt to trust the amazing instructors who are highly skilled skiers and well trained. Once I developed the trust I could let go and focus on the fun of getting down the slopes.
You fall but get back up
Sure you will fall and sometimes it will even hurt. Learn from what went wrong and give it another go. I was on a run skiing with no guidance and everything was going great until I fell, and slid down a hill but my Disabled Wintersport Australia (DWA) guides helped me get back up. We spoke about what went wrong and did another run.
Don’t let bad days hold you back
We all have bad days whether it’s how we are feeling or something out of our control like the weather. Push past the bad days, take encouragement on board and keep going. I’ve had days where I was so afraid of falling that I doubted my abilities. Don’t by afraid to try different equipment – it’s not one size fits all. After I tried a more stable sit ski and with the encouragement from a new instructor I went out and kept practicing to smash more goals.
Don’t compare yourself to others
I admire and watch other sit skiers but I don’t compare my abilities to others. I work at my own pace and find out what works for me. I have been on a Disabled Wintersport Australia camp with guys and have seen them progress from never being on snow before to skiing independently in a matter of days/ I know what I am capable of and a little encouragement from others will help me reach my goals.
No excuses. There is a way to make it possible.
The snow is cold but sit skiing is a sport that warms me up and I have learnt to dress in layers…lots of them. If something isn’t right work out how to make it right.
Every experience is different
No two experiences are the same. You will never forget your first time. I was hesitant to return to the snow because I had such an amazing first experience. I have learnt each year I experience different things, meet new people, new conditions and I enjoy every second and it’s great to experience new resorts with great new instructors.
Life is amazing and do what you love
I love sit skiing with amazing people and I will continue to holiday in winter wonderlands all over the world.
Check out the Disabled Wintersport Australia website for information on sit skiing tuition and camps.