By Andrew Vye,
First things first, let’s talk about my disability.
I am 29 years of age and have profound deafness. In terms of how deafness is classified, it’s usually either mild, moderate, severe or profound. So i’m not far off from total deafness. I have been deaf since the age of two when I lost my hearing to meningitis. At first, I was moderately deaf after recovering from meningitis (I lost half my hearing) then as I got older, it deteriorated.
Last year, I had a cochlear implant operation, which has brought back most of my hearing and I’m obviously over the moon. Most people do not notice that I am deaf unless I either tell or they notice my hearing aid as I have always had excellent lip reading skills and can speak very well.
The complications I have faced with deafness throughout my life are wide ranging. For example, I can’t hear certain sounds (mostly higher frequency, whispers or quiet sounds), communicating on the telephone is always a challenge, in noisy environments I’m unable to hear and rely totally on lip-reading, and I’m not able to work in certain professions due to my disability. The list goes on…
But now that I have had my cochlear implant operation I am able to hear much better. I don’t let anything hold me back and I always aim to achieve the best I can in life. I like to think of myself without a disability.
So how did I get into skiing? The idea of skiing came from a group of friends back in 2008 when they suggested I try it out. Then, the following January, I went with a big group of friends (10 of us) to Val Thorens in France.
I have loved skiing since this first trip have seriously got the ski bug. So far, I have been four times and am about to go on my fifth ski holiday in January.
Before my first trip, I had no experience or any practice in the sport whatsoever, the whole thing was a very new to me. When I learned to ski, we were 10 of us in my group and only three were experienced skiers, the rest of us, including myself, were all learning for the very first time.
It was difficult on the very first day. We all had a ski instructor taking us up and down the slopes in the morning, however I wanted to push myself and learn faster than the rest of the group. Everyone’s confidence levels are very different and I wanted to challenge myself, so after day two of going up and down the green runs I got a little bored.
I knew that to learn how to turn properly and efficiently whilst going down the slopes I needed a bit more speed, so I asked the three experienced skiers if I could tag along with them instead. They were happy for me to join them and took me down some more intermediate blue slopes. Straight away I noticed how much harder skiing was compared to the green runs, but once I managed to get the hang of turning and stopping, it became a piece of cake.
By the end of my very first week of skiing I managed to go down the more difficult red runs and in the last two days plucked up the courage to try out the really difficult black runs including the harder ones with moguls.
I learned that by pushing myself to go down slightly steeper slopes than the flat runs where I can gain a little more speed that it was much easier to turn and master how to stop properly.
After each ski holiday I gained much more confidence each time, I can go down the slopes a lot faster with great speeds and I totally enjoy it. I have even gone off piste on odd occasions where the snow is untouched and very powdery, it was great fun!
The most I like about skiing is feeling free up on the mountains, it is a great way to get away from everyday stress with general lifestyle in the cities and workloads. I would recommend to anybody that has never been skiing to definitely try it out. I regret not doing much sooner and wish I tried it out when I was back in school.
I absolutely love skiing and aim to go every year without fail from now on, it is addictive and extremely fun. If I could, I would go twice a year, but ski holidays can sometimes be expensive, but I would never give it up!
On my first and second ski holiday I used regular long skis, but on my other holidays I used snowblades which are shorter than regular skis and no need for sticks. Personally I prefer the snowblades as it is hands free, so I am able to hold my camera and film some of our activities down the slopes without the ski sticks getting in the way.
I have also tried out snowboarding once which I enjoyed, but I only had one afternoon on the last day which was not enough time to properly get the hang of it; I will certainly give it another go in the future though.
In January 2016 I am going again to the ski resort called Tignes in France. I am still debating with myself on whether to use the regular long skis again or stick with snowblades. I am incredibly looking forward to this ski holiday as I haven’t been skiing in the last four long years since 2012.