The Thrill of the Slope
Sandy Dukat was born with a congenital limb deficiency, without a femur, and had her foot amputated at an early age. She always enjoyed sports, and became interested in the Paralympics when she learned of the possibility of engaging in this caliber of competition.
When she became involved with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) in 1995, she competed in swimming, a sport with which she was familiar. RIC sports activities exposed her to downhill skiing, and she began ski racing in 1998. In January 2006, she won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the Disabled Alpine Cup in Park City, Utah, and top placements in the Disabled Alpine World Cup in South Korea. In Torino, she is competing in the downhill, Super G, giant slalom, and slalom races.
Sandy spoke of how her involvement in sports has benefited her tremendously, both physically and mentally. It has helped her overcome beliefs in negative and stereotypical notions about persons with disabilities. Success in a sport has allowed her to realize that she is unstoppable, and that she truly is a strong and competent woman.
At RIC, Sandy also worked as an Information Specialist for NCPAD, and relates the importance of providing information on physical activity for people with disabilities. Throughout her career, she has been dismayed at the lack of education and training for persons with disabilities in sports, recreation, and fitness activities: NCHPAD serves this need by linking persons with disabilities with resources in physical activity, fitness, sports, etc.NCHPAD asked Sandy about her successes:
Starting the process:
One should not judge oneself on initial attempts at a sport, fitness, or any other endeavor. Sandy admits that she didn't finish one ski race during her first year of training in Colorado. Instead, she adopted an openness to try new things, with an understanding that she could fail in the process. She underscores the importance of persons with disabilities being both creative and resourceful, and using their sense of humor fully.Nurturing a vision:
Adopting a vision for what you desire to achieve is critical. All of Sandy's successes have come to fruition through envisioning a goal achieved. For example, her Paralympic aspirations began with a vision of herself on the medals podium.Developing goals:
Sandy's advice is to develop realistic goals that are achievable, but as you evolve and learn, continually reassess your goals so that they are always challenging and refreshing.