The winter season kicked off with Ski Sundown opening on Monday, with some athletes making unique turns on the slopes. They are part of the Summit Adaptive Sports program for skiers with disabilities.

This program aims to make skiing comprehensive and offers individual lessons or a 5-week program. It is intended for people with physical, cognitive, or developmental disabilities. Confidence grows with skill.

Back Mother runs full speed down the slopes with a big smile on her face.

“The Sundown Summit Adaptive program volunteers are great,” he said. “They treat me like a friend and are a lot of fun to be with.”

The 23-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, has been skiing at Ski Sundown in New Hartford for 12 years through the Summit Adaptive Sports program.

Wheelchairs are no problem thanks to sit skis.

“They let us ski on tethers so we could get more space from someone helping us ski,” Mather said.

For 12-year-old Claire Klein and her 9-year-old brother Asher, skating down the slopes is second nature.

Claire Klein said, “It’s great because you really don’t have this anywhere else.”

Both brother and sister are deaf.

“I really enjoy skiing,” Usher said. “The whole program is useful.”

Both have been honing their skills in adaptive one-on-one lessons since they were three years old. Claire is currently transitioning to snowboarding.

“They’re so excited. They’re having so much fun,” said coach Devon Murphy. Learn more about making sure they feel safe in the mountains, confident and ready to get out there and have fun.

That confidence is just as important as mastering the physical side of the sport.

Karen Cook, executive director and president of Summit Adaptive Sports, said:

Cook attended Summit Adaptive Sports because his own son has autism. She said she has 55 volunteers and more than 100 of her athletes in this year’s program. These athletes range in age from her 4 years old to her 90 years old.

“They can do this stuff. They’re still athletic and they can still participate in sports. There’s nothing stopping them,” Cook said.

Our coaches are PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) certified and trained to meet the unique needs of skiers, using specialized equipment to facilitate each lesson.

“We try to keep our athletes as independent as possible,” Cook said.

And each athlete proves that skiing is next to having wings.

“I feel free,” Mother said. “I’ve relied on others almost all my life, so it feels great to ski.”

The program is now 17th Year. Summit Adaptive Sports recently gained non-profit status and plans to expand to offer sports throughout the year.

Those interested in signing up can do so online at

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