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An Adrenalin Pumping Introduction To Snowsports For Veterans With Physical Incapacity

For many Australians, heading to the snow is something to look forward to each year. For most, it’s just a lovely holiday, but for others, it can be transformational.

Disabled Wintersport Australia (DWA) supports those living with a disability or medical condition – physical, sensory, intellectual, acquired and psychiatric or psychological – to participate in skiing and snowboarding across major Australian snow resorts.

DWA offers adaptive equipment, such as sit skis, and volunteer guides assist and accompany members on the slopes. They even run a Race Week in conjunction with the annual Australian Defence Force snow sports championships. Participants can compete against ADF personnel, some of whom have their own adaptive needs.

We have an exciting opportunity for six Veterans to attend a Disabled Wintersports Australia (DWA) Adaptive Snowsports Camp at Mt Buller from the 29th of June to the 1st of July 2022. This fantastic Veterans only activity is supported by the Navy Ski Club Mt Buller and will introduce participants to adaptive snowsports such as Skiing and Snowboarding. Perhaps you were once a skiier that has had to give up conventional snowsports because of injury or incapacity? Or maybe you are a Veteran with a physical disability or incapacity that wants to try something new?

Veteran, Phil Thomson, has had a passion for snowsports ever since childhood. His participation was cut short by a significant leg injury that saw him medically discharged from his Army career. Although able to walk reasonably well, Phil’s injuries prevented him from participating in any physical activity that might impact his leg and cause further complications, so snow sports were definitely out, or so he thought. The next decade was a challenge for Phil, the physical restrictions took a real toll on his mental health, and he struggled to find a sport that challenged him. In 2013, Phil was introduced to DWA and was convinced to give adaptive skiing a go. The following month, Phil attended a DWA Members Camp at Falls Creek, where he was introduced to the sport of sit-skiing. In near white-out conditions, a dedicated team of DWA volunteer guides and trainers braved the elements to ensure Phil had the confidence to hit the slopes once again. Phil now has his own sit-ski and is an active member of the Navy Ski Club at Mt Buller, where he can be seen self-loading onto lifts and rocketing down the odd Black run.

It is so good to have total independence again, in a sport I love and with the full support of the Ski Club and fellow DWA members. The sit-ski is an adrenalin rush and is great for my overall physical fitness and mental health. As a DWA Member, I could borrow a sit-ski when I needed one, and the Volunteer guides were so patient, ensuring that I was safe and often dragging me out of snowdrifts. Now that I’m more competent and requiring my own gear, it also helps that the Department Of Veterans Affairs is now funding the purchase of adaptive snowsports equipment for those with recognised physical incapacities.

We want to see more veterans hit the slopes, and just maybe, one day, we can field our very own snow sports team for the Invictus Games. If you are interested in attending our Veterans Camp at Mt Buller from the afternoon of the 29th of June to the 1st of July, don't hesitate to contact Phil at or phone 0417 000 921 for further information.

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