Wounded vets ski Vail slopes | AspenTimes.com

Wounded vets ski Vail slopes

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL ” Ohio resident William “Biff” Fry had skied before, but never like this.

Fry, an Air Force veteran who served in Saudi Arabia, usually gets around in a wheelchair, but this week he traded his wheelchair for a mono-ski on Vail’s Golden Peak.

He had skied once before he developed multiple sclerosis from receiving anthrax shots.

At first the instructor pushed Fry’s ski, but after a few moments, the instructor let him go, steering with tethers and letting Fry coast down the slope.

Fry is one of eight veterans who participated in the Vail Veterans Program’s fifth annual sit-ski clinic.

The program runs a bigger mono-ski clinic for amputees in March, but this month’s clinic focused on veterans with spinal-cord injuries, said Cheryl Jensen, the program’s president.

In fact, Fry said he liked the experience so much that he plans to compete in the winter wheelchair Olympics in Aspen this year. He wants to try every sport and figure out what he likes and what he can do, he said.

“I can’t figure out how people can sit and dwell. I can’t do that. If you could do it before, you can do it now. You’ve just got to find a different way to do it,” Fry said.

Some participants had never skied before, such as Florida resident Elmer Dinglasan, who lost both of his legs in a land-mine explosion.

For Dinglasan, who has struggled just to relearn how to walk, getting on the slopes was a big accomplishment. For two years since his injury, he has focused on learning to adapt and regain strength, and now he feels ready to try new things.

“I can’t sit down and feel sorry about it ” it already happened. That’s not going to make it better,” Dinglasan said.

One inch of new snow has fallen within the past 24 hours at each of the four local ski areas, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Tuesday morning snow report.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Tuesday, Feb. 12:

The avalanche danger for the Aspen zone is rated considerable on all aspects near and above treeline. Below treeline, the danger is moderate.

Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for the full report and information on conditions statewide.

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