World's Largest Disabled Ski Clinic Under Way in Colorado

Four hundred disabled veterans, including 67 vets who were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, were in Snowmass Village, Colo., on Sunday to kick off the world’s largest disabled ski clinic, according to the Department of Defense.

Two disabled veterans, Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield and Robert T. Reynolds, national commander of Disabled American Veterans, participated in the opening of the 22nd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, a six-day event sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans. "I encourage you to make the most of this," Reynolds said to first-time participants. "Look for inspiration in your fellow veterans, and you will find it quickly." Reynolds said his first experience at the clinic after a disabling skydiving accident was changed his outlook, giving him a new sense of freedom and self-worth. Mansfield told the participants they should apply the same qualities of dedication, pride, and self-worth they demonstrated during their military service to their rehabilitation.

The clinic is open to U.S. military veterans with disabilities ranging from spinal cord injuries and orthopedic amputations to visual impairment and neurological conditions. Veterans who receive health care at a VA medical facility get first priority to attend. Participants learn adaptive skiing with mono-skis and bi-skis, as well as alpine and nordic skiing techniques, with the more advanced skiers receiving innovative race training designed to identify world-class disabled skiers with potential to become paralympic athletes, according to DoD.

Sponsors help to finance the activities, and volunteers who work with the veterans include more than 200 certified adaptive ski instructors, including current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team.

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