The SaskTel Challenge Cup “is an opportunity for everyone with a disability and non-disability to have fun and ski no matter what, even if you’re in a wheelchair” said 9-year-old Annika Warren, from her sit-ski as she awaited her turn to rip down a slalom course at Mission Ridge Winter Park in Fort Qu’Appelle. People of all ages and abilities were out to support the Regina Alpine Adaptive Ski program on Saturday, February 25, and participate in the 11th Annual Challenge Cup.
The Challenge Cup is a ski and snowboard event pairing four able-bodied individuals with one skier with a disability. Teams of five take turns racing competitors down a slalom course. Each member of the group is timed and at the end of the day scores are tallied and awards are given to the fastest… and slowest teams.
At the event I was able to speak with current Crystal Globe holder of the 2015/16 IPC Para-Alpine World Cup circuit, and Paralympic athlete Kurt Oatway. In 2010, Kurt got his start sit-skiing at Mission Ridge, with the Regina Alpine Race Team. If he is not racing or training he makes sure to attend the Challenge Cup event where he signs autographs and presents medals to the children who dream to one day race in the Paralympics, just like him. He says the SaskTel Challenge Cup is great for the community and it’s a good way to raise funds for the Adaptive Ski program.
Having booked into the event late, I was thrown onto a team last minute, where I was welcomed with open arms… until they saw me tackle the course. I spent a good chunk of my first run sliding on my butt, and lost my second race in a photo finish against Joshua, a 13-year-old blind skier, who ripped down the hill with zero fear and the biggest smile.
If you’re ever in need of a little inspiration, the kids in this program are where you’ll find it.
And for all the amazing volunteers who help make this event happen, keep up the good work.