Andrea Wojcik learns to hit slopes with help from volunteer instructors
Every Friday night during the winter months, the slopes at Canada Olympic Park are filled with people of different abilities learning to ski.
The Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing has about 200 students with about 300 instructors volunteering their time to teach.
Andrea Wojcik, a student at the association, said she is always excited to get onto the hill, and is one of the last people to come in at the end of the night.
Wojcik was injured 10 years ago in a motorcycle accident leaving her paralyzed. She started skiing five years ago.
“It’s like skiing opened up a whole new world to me, I thought being in a chair I was stuck inside doing bogus things that were so limited. Skiing was like, ‘Dude, you can do things, you can be outside, you can do stuff,’” Wojcik said.
The Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing is completely volunteer-based, and fundraises to support the costs of running the program. Calgary is the largest branch of the association that is run across Canada.
Kendra Fergusson, a volunteer with the Calgary branch, said, “We have almost 200 students, so you can imagine on a Friday night it does get very crowded on the hill, and you’d never think that disabled parking is full, but it can be very hard to get a close parking spot.”
Students have at least one instructor, and depending on the disability, some students have three to four instructors helping them learn how to ski, Fergusson said.
The instructors are the backbone of the organization and without them, ski lessons would be impossible.
“We are a ski school, but because we are volunteer run, we think that we have people and instructors that really want to be here,” Fergusson said.