Rachel Bailey has started an amazing challenge to sit ski all 69 accessible ski slopes in the UK between September 2023 – September 2024. Today we share a Q&A in which Rachel chats all about her journey, please follow her Instagram and Facebook for updates.
When and where did I start skiing?
I started skiing about 15 years ago. I had a go on a local dry slope just to see what it was like, enjoyed it so much I started to ski on a monthly basis at my local adaptive ski club, Ice Cool Kids in Pembrey, West Wales, where I became part of the regular ski club.
How does skiing make me feel and what impact does it have on my life?
Skiing is one of my big passions that gets my heart pumping, the excitement I get is unreal and it is so energising.
I always look forward to getting in the sit ski as I get a real buzz from skiing down the slopes. I always end the run with a beaming smile on my face.
When I ski I just feel free, forgetting that I am disabled because of Cerebral Palsy (CP). I feel alive and full of adrenaline.
Skiing helps me to have a positive focus on life, looking forward to future adventures, my disability not being a barrier to having a full life.
Being outdoors in the fresh air is really good for my mental health and I enjoy meeting new people and making friends, making life more enjoyable.
I never thought I would be able to do this, and wouldn’t without the support that is out there.
What is my challenge ?
To ski down all of the ski slopes that are accessible to me in a sit ski in the UK between September 2023 and end of September 2024.
Why am I doing it?
I am trying to raise awareness of adaptive skiing for those with a disability and want to try it. That they can ski with the equipment and help that is available at the ski slopes in the UK.
I would also like to make ski slopes give more opportunities for people with any disability, to be more inclusive.
I absolutely love to ski, especially abroad. I really want to make an impact in changing people’s perceptions of disability and showing what people with a disability can do.
Where have I skied before?
I have done a lot of dry slope skiing as well as going abroad on ski trips to countries such as France, Italy, Austria, California and Bulgaria.
I am hoping to do lots more in the future. I would really love to ski in Canada, which is a big dream of mine.
What advice would I give to someone who hasn’t skied before?
To anyone with a disability who is interested in taking up a hobby and feel that they might want to give skiing a try, I would say just go for it. You don’t know until you try.
Don’t let any disability you have hold you back. Where there is a will, there is normally a way. It may lead to more exciting things in the future.
What am I most excited about this project ?
Skiing! I am excited about traveling about in the UK, meeting and working with the different instructors and skiing all the different types of slopes, seeing how fast I can go down the slopes. Mainly I’m excited about promoting disability skiing in the UK
Why am I taking on this amazing challenge now?
I wanted to come up with something fun to do with my life that also could make a difference for other disabled people. Because I love skiing so much I wanted to open up more opportunities for me for the future as well as other people.
Challenges faced with skiing?
When I first started skiing, due to my severe speech impediment, I would feel nervous incase people didn’t understand me.
Sometimes the skiing group that I went too didn’t have enough instructors which meant I had to wait a long time for my turn. Occasionally, the group or the ski slope didn’t have enough sit ski’s that were available. So this meant hanging around for an hour or so until the sit ski and instructor became available to me to take me up and down the slope.
How do I think adaptive skiing can be improved in the UK?
From my experience the availability of adaptive skiing equipment and qualified instructors can be a problem at some slopes.