Adaptive sports began as a means to rehabilitate veterans from World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War. Among the early pioneers of adaptive skiing was Jim Winthers, a WWII veteran who was a member of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division – the Skiing 10th, an elite group specifically trained for alpine warfare. In 1953, Winthers was director of the Donner Ski Ranch in Northern California. Reunited with two buddies who lost legs in the war, and using techniques he saw in Europe, he taught them to ski on one leg. He later was sought out by Jim Graham, a former skier who lost his leg to cancer and wanted to learn Winthers’ techniques. Two years later, Graham and Winthers and two others began developing techniques to impart skiing and teaching methods at weeklong clinics. Eventually, Graham and Dan McPherson became the first and second certified ski instructors with a disability.
Locally, Cannonsburg is the closest place to ski. Fortunately for our family, the CCSA is part of the organization. The Cannonsburg Challenged Ski Association (CCSA) was established in the early 1980’s as a volunteer effort to offer individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in winter activities. CCSA started with only ten students, one outrigger, a bamboo pole and one sit ski, and has now evolved over the years into a professionally trained organization with a full range of adaptive equipment, ready to serve a wide variety of needs.When we arrived for Cam's skiing lesson after lunchtime, we had ample time to get ready. Our son's preference to be early paid off. The parking lot was full but we were able to snag a close spot, which we were thankful for due to the soggy mud surrounding all of the cars. It was close to 35 degrees and the slopes were busy.