Ski for Light is non-profit organization that uses cross-country or nordic skiing as a means to introduce people with visual and physical impairments to sport, exercise and health. It brings together people with and without disabilities to share in the enjoyment of exercise and the outdoors.
Wisconsin Ski-For-Light, Inc. began in 1984 as a regional program serving the Madison / Milwaukee area. Since then the program has grown to include all of Wisconsin as well as drawing participants from Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.
Cross-country skiing is generally regarded as one of the best fitness activities in the world, because it involves the simultaneous use of most major muscle groups, supported by the work of several different systems of the body. For those not familiar with skiing, cross-country skiing differs from downhill skiing in several important ways. In cross-country skiing, the skier's boot is attached to the ski by only one toe, with the heel of the boot "free". The unconstrained heel allows a cross-country skier to climb hills and traverse level terrain, as well as to travel down hills, making the sport a truly "cross-country" activity. In downhill skiing, the entire boot is attached to the ski, which limits the skier to downhill terrain. In addition, the cross-country skier wears lighter clothing than the downhill skier, because of the body heat generated by the exercise.
At Ski for Light, each skier with a visual or mobility-impairment is matched with an experienced sighted, able-bodied ski guide for the event. As a pair, they ski together throughout the event. The visually or mobility-impaired person skis in the pre-set tracks or grooves in the snow, while the guide skis in a similar set of tracks alongside. For visually-impaired skiers, the guide informs the skier of changes in the direction and level of the tracks, offers instructional tips and suggestions, and tells the skier about the countryside; for skiers with mobility impairments, the guide provides physical assistance and stability as needed. Each guide/skier pair decides together how far, how long and on what kind of terrain they will ski.
Depending on the skier's approach to the sport, cross-country skiing can be as gentle as a stroll through the park, or as physically demanding as any aerobic workout. The sport, however, may not be right for every single person, any more than jogging, bicycling, or any other fitness activity is right for every single person. This will depend on the person's general health and physical condition, lifestyle, heredity, and other factors.
The information provided in this website was supported by Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number U59DD000906 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.
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