Today the blind sports network were holding an activity day for blind and partially sighted people to come and try out some new sports. The blind sports network seem to be part of Disability sports Northern Ireland. The day was for all ages.
There was a coach put on by the blind sports network to take people from Lergan bus or train station to the Ski centre in Cregavon. /cregavon is very hard to get to unless you have a car as the nearist train station to there seems to be Lergan or Portadown. Unfortunately it was only me and my friend Paul plus two volunteers who used it so i felt that it was maybe a waist of money and would have thought more people would have used it.
Anyway we got to the ski centre at about 10 o’clock. We first of all got on our ski boots. Boy were they hard to get on. They looked a bit like an ice skating boot if anyone has ever seen one of them, only there were clips up the side of the boots. You had to put the clips on the loosest setting otherwise you would end up hurting yourself. Before we got our boots on, we had to get weighed and measured so they could make sure we were given the right types of skis for our weight and so that the right amount of pressure would be on the skis. Who knew that would be part of a sport lol!
After all that was taken care of, we headed outside on to the dry ski slope. We had to wear gloves and i learnt that i should have put on thicker socks as you really feel the boot against your shins if you’re not careful. Even though it was a dry ski slope, if you fell on the slope, you could badly burn yourself as it is like the texture of a yard brush that you’re skiing on. Walking in the boots was really hard because they were so tight. I had to get Ushi to slow down because walking with her was quite hard.
Next, we were shown our skis. They looked like wooden planks that were maybe a foot wide. They were about an arms length long. They had a clip in the middle where the toe of your boot would go. You would then have to press your foot down with your heel until it clicked in to place. The skis were designed like a safety stirrup where if you fell, you would then be released from the ski to stop you from hurting yourself more.
Each person was then given an individual instructor. The guy who worked with me was called Stuart. We first of all practiced on some very flat ground with just one ski on to see how we would find it. We had to practice stepping and turning around by stepping. I must say i felt very clumsy so we tried two skis one on each foot next to see if that was any better. Unfortunately i still felt very clumsy. I compared it to ice skating where you kind of have to slid along rather than shuffling. I think it helps me anyway because i am holding on to something when i ice skate but when you’re skiing, you can’t really do that.
We then went up the slope as all beginner skiiers start at the bottom of the slope. When you are going up the slope, you have to make your skis tilt on their sides, so you don’t slide back down the slope again. You then have to make sure that your skis are straight and that they don’t cross over and that they remain parallel. So quite a lot to take in. You then have to walk with your knees bent to get a full on slide going on. I can’t remember why this is lol. So we slid a couple of times which was fun, but i still felt as if my hands needed to be holding on to something.
We were on the slope for about an hour, but it didn’t feel that long. You have to trust the skis, trust the instructors, and trust the ground. There is quite a lot to remember and it takes quite a lot of concentration.
What made it all worth while though, was that Kelly Galagher was waiting for me at the end of my session. She is a gold medal athlete from here. I love the way northern iresh people don’t let fame go to their heads though as she just seemed normal. She helped out with some of the kids sessions too as there were kids and adults taking part. What a relief to get those ski boots off though!
After that, it was time for a few rounds of golf. I was debating taking part, as i played golf at school and always found it to be an old mans sport lol. But i decided to give it a go anyway. I got quite a few shots, but struggled with keeping the club straight. It was good craic none the less.
After that, everyone was starving so we headed over to the watersports centre because the caffe there was quieter. I had a sausage roll and chips and a coke whilst catching up with a lot of people from school who i hadn’t seen in a while.
After that, we headed out on a tandum. I was with Stuart again so that was cool. We cycled a 5 k route, which turned out to be the local parkrun route. I jokingly said to one of the volunteers who had Ushi that they should go round it all and time it so that i could add that as a freedom run and cheat a little lol. It took us about 25 minutes to cycle around the whole course. The bike was needing a good dose of oil though as it was rather squeaky. I always find that when i am on a tandum, it feels like we’re constantly going down hill, although we aren’t all the time.
I forgot to say that before Lunch, we went up one of the bigger slopes without skis, to do some snow Tubing. This is where you sit in a big rubber ring. It has a reinforced bottom. You sit with your feet hanging over the edge and hold on to the handles. It was great craic as you zoom down the slope. A lot less hard work than skiing lol.
Finally, it was time to relax with some sailing at the end of the day. I always find sailing very relaxing so it was a lovely way to end a busy day.
I would like to thank disability sports and the blind sports network first of all for organising such a good event. It was very well organised and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I would also like to thank the instructors who taught us today, and Kelly gallagher for coming along and being so helpful, and to Sandra who was on dog duty today and she loved it.
The company Halfords had sponsored the event, so we got reflective vests at the end which was nice and useful, especially as my newist coat that i have is jet black apparently.
It was a brilliant day and my favourite events would have to be the snow tubing and the sailing.
No doubt i’ll feel the skiing in the morning lol.
I’m just posting quickly to let you know about something i discovered earlier in the week.
Disability Sports NI are holding an activity taster day on Saturday the 20th September at Creg avin ski centre and water sports centre. It runs from 10 until 4 i think. It is an opportunity to try out different sprots such as Skiing, golf, sailing, tandum cycling and i can’t remember if there are any more.
For more information, visit the link below.
Activity taster day for blind and partially sighted people
For an entry form. You have until the 5th September to get your entries in.
I promise i will have a more personal entry hopefully soon, but i just wanted to post this information.=”