Amelia Xu began skiing with Achieve Tahoe last winter, along with her husband and her sons. Amelia and her husband are Deaf; finding somewhere where her whole family could learn to ski together was a priority.

“I reached out to Palisade Tahoe, who referred me to Achieve Tahoe. Although I had heard of skiing in the mountains, I had never envisioned skiing myself because I thought it was impossible.”

Over the past two years, Amelia has realized that skiing is more than possible: it is a new passion for her whole family.

Makaylin (left), Amelia (middle), and Nicole (right) ride the Treeline Cirque lift with smiling faces and showing the sign for love in ASL.

“Skiing makes me feel great and stress-free. I fell in love with skiing. My favorite part is enjoying a beautiful landscape view of the mountains and snow while riding on a chairlift and chatting with a team of friendly instructors.”

For Amelia, one of the biggest benefits of taking lessons with Achieve Tahoe has been how our instructors work diligently to make sure they are presenting information clearly in a way she understands.

“My family uses American Sign Language, so some instructors assigned to work with us have basic ASL skills; even if they don’t, they have used alternative forms of communication tools like [dictation apps] on the iPhone to help us understand instructions. The instructors have had the flexibility to work with us and we have had the flexibility to work with them – enjoying skiing is all that matters.”

Nicole (right), a Deaf instructor at Achieve Tahoe, gives Amelia (left) feedback and instructions on her skiing near the top of Meadow lift.
Nicole (left) and Amelia (right) discuss ski technique in ASL near the bottom of the Subway lift.

Amelia describes the rejuvenating power of skiing, along with a new form of communication it offers. “Skiing is a communication in itself, because when your brain tells you go this way, your legs follow suit. It’s the beauty of silent communication at its zenith.” 

Watching her kids learn to ski has also been a reward in itself.

“The best memories for my kids were when one of them began to ski on his own without a supporting rod. It gives me hope that they are on the path to skiing better than us in the long run. It helps them to overcome their fears.”

The first instructor takes her student down Subway using bamboo pole, while the second instructor traces a line in the snow for her student to follow with Amelia skiing nearby.

In the future, Amelia and her family hope to become strong enough skiers so they can volunteer with Achieve Tahoe as snowsports instructors.

“In the future, when my family and I have gained the necessary skills, we will apply as volunteer ski instructors to help others. We would spread Achieve to other deaf families interested in skiing. We consider Achieve Tahoe a family.”

Amelia and her two sons are in between 3 smiling instructors (one left, two right) at the base of Subway. Nicole (far right instructor) is making the sign for love in ASL.

Thank you Amelia and family for sharing your story, and we look forward to see you for lessons again soon, and one day as volunteer instructors!