This January, we had the pleasure of speaking with Sonia Vera, a participant who learned to sit-ski with us this year, about her experience adaptive skiing with Achieve Tahoe. Read on to learn what inspired her, her challenges, successes, and her advice to anyone considering participating in adaptive recreation.

Sonia is focusing as she tries out a monoski on her first day at Alpine Meadows

Achieve Tahoe: What brought you to adaptive skiing?

Sonia: I saw a story on Trevor Kennison one day on Instagram and I was inspired by his story, after he made X Games history by hitting the big air jump in a monoski. His approach and attitude to getting back on the snow after a boarding accident was inspiring. Being a boarder myself, I thought after becoming paralyzed that I would never be able get back on the snow. Now, I’m not trying to participate in the X Games, but, when I saw him ski, I felt the world of adaptive ski was something I couldn’t pass on and I am determined to get as good as I can. 

Achieve Tahoe: What did it feel like to sit-ski for the first time?                                                                

Sonia: At first it was a bit awkward but I felt my body take to it pretty quickly. Feeling my body move with the skis and being one with them was an awesome feeling. It felt like I was back to boarding. It really felt liberating.

Sonia is smiling on the chairlift with two of her instructors at Palisades Tahoe

Achieve Tahoe: How did you hear about Achieve Tahoe? 

Sonia: Through research, I found it online. I boarded a lot in Tahoe so I checked to see if there were lessons.

Achieve Tahoe: What was the hardest part of sit-skiing?

Sonia: Definitely trying to get back up when you fall. Having to lift not only your body, but the weight of a chair as well, is definitely a challenge . Also, getting on and off the lift is a bit scary. There’s lots to learn, which is very exciting.

Sonia is on her side on the snow as one of her instructors adjusts her bi-ski
Sonia looks downhill in her bi-ski on a freshly groomed slope

Achieve Tahoe: What was your favorite part of sit-skiing? 

Sonia: The sense of freedom it brought me. Being at the top of the mountain, just like everyone else, doing one of my favorite sports again felt amazing. I forgot I was even a wheelchair user. 

Achieve Tahoe: What would you tell someone else considering participating with Achieve Tahoe?   

Sonia: Don’t wait. Any sort of adaptive sports will change your life, awakening you to an endless possibility of opportunity that will make you feel alive. Being up on the mountain is a great way to connect with nature, while having some fun. The instructors made it so easy to understand what is involved in the process and really making me comfortable about getting on the slopes. Their guidance really made skiing so enjoyable. I loved every minute of it, I can’t wait to go back!

Sonia and her instructors are smiling at the base of Alpine Meadows after her first day of skiing
Sonia and her instructors are smiling in the Tram at Palisades Tahoe on her second day skiing

Thank you Sonia for taking the time to speak with us, and we look forward to skiing with you again soon!