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Snowsports festival all about the fun

Comox Valley Record - 1/10/2019

The Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) Festival has been running this week at Mount Washington. The annual program offers novice lessons in downhill, snowboard and cross-country skiing to people with any type of disability.

A number of students are amputees.

"We have all the adaptive equipment you can imagine, and we usually can figure out a way to get everybody out on the snow," VISAS board member/instructor Gina Stubbs said.

"The main goal is to have fun and learn," added Sebastien Braconnier, also a board member/instructor. "There are no age limits."

"We have had people in their late-70s," Stubbs noted.

The volunteer-driven, non-profit VISAS started out as the Vancouver Island Skiing for the Disabled Society in 1992.

"Herb Bradley started the program back in the late-'70s on Forbidden Plateau," Stubbs said. "When Mount Washington opened, he brought the whole adaptive program to Mount Washington and incorporated the festival into our regular programs here."

More than 100 volunteer instructors — including a dozen Nordic skiers — assist participants on the mountain. Come summer time, some of them run the beer garden at Nautical Days, which generates a couple thousand dollars for the society.


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