Blaine, Carson and Dominic Thomas with Wesley Johnston and Ross Frazier. Photo by Raven Eye Photography.

Fernie adaptive snow program needs volunteers

FIRE to host group of Australian adaptive skiers in February as word of the program spreads

Adaptive skiers from Downunder will get a chance to experience Fernie’s famous champagne powder when a local charity welcomes the group this winter.

The Fernie Inspire the Race to Empower (FIRE) Adaptive Snow Program will host a large group of Australian adaptive skiers in February as word of the non-profit continues to spread.

Now entering its seventh season, FIRE is currently recruiting experienced skiers and snowboarders to help run the program.

Local woman Grace Brulotte founded FIRE in 2012 with the aim of giving people of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy snowsports at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR).

She is confined to a wheelchair after being born with a rare neuromuscular disorder called arthrogryposis, as well as spinal condition scoliosis, and discovered the joys of adaptive skiing in 2011.

“It still amazes me how far we’ve come,” said Brulotte.

“We started out by dragging our sit skis up to the hill for our five students to enjoy along with our nine instructors.

“Today we have a clubhouse on the hill, which houses our fleet of four sit skis and other adaptive equipment.”

Last season, FIRE’s membership swelled to more than 50 instructors and students, who introduced out-of-town guests to FAR.

“The jump from 14 to 50 members has really been incredible but honestly couldn’t be done without our community sponsors who keep the program affordable and accessible,” said Brulotte.

This year, the FIRE team is focused on further developing the program, including advancing veteran instructors to a higher level of certification.

They will hold certification courses for new instructors in January.

Skiers and snowboarders who wish to volunteer must attend a prerequisite six-hour Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance overview, as well as a three-day adaptive certification course.

Once completed, they become Level 1 Canadian Adaptive Snowsports instructors and are encouraged to volunteer at least six of the 12 lesson days over the season, which are regularly on Sundays.

Brulotte said many other volunteer opportunities exist at FIRE.

“We are always looking for fresh smiles to help keep this amazing program ablaze,” she said.

“On snow support is a good way to be directly involved with instructors or students.

“We also always appreciate more help with the board, as well as running the program in general. Photography and videography is another great way to help FIRE as well.”

To register your interest as a volunteer, email Grace Brulotte via fernieadaptive@gmail.com. For more information, visit Fernieadaptiveski.ca.

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