My Friend, Carl Burnett

March 6, 2010 at 8:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Friend, Carl Burnett

My friend, Carl Burnett, is a member of the US Ski Team.

Carl Burnett, Skier

He skis a mean slalom (and GS, and Super G, and downhill), has made me look like a novice on a timed race course and in a halfpipe, and he could most certainly kick my butt in Scrabble (owing to his love of everything word-related, which I suppose is besides the point here, although he is working on a Ski Dictionary to meld these two seemingly incongruous loves).

Carl is also paralyzed from the waist down, the result of a car accident when he was a little kid.

So, how does Carl ski?

He uses a monoski.

Monoski

No! Not one of those skier-with-a-snowboard-identity-crisis devices.

This monoski. And, yup, that’s Carl at last year’s National Championships in Winter Park.

Carl Burnett monoski
Photo credit Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Carl is a long-time member of the US Disabled Ski Team, and will be competing in his third Paralympics this month in Vancouver.

What are the Paralympics, you might ask?

The Paralympics are an elite athletic competition for people who, despite various disabilities (examples include paralysis, blindness, and missing or amputated limbs), excel in their chosen sport. Winter Paralympic sports include alpine and cross country skiing, with divisions for each class of disability (Carl competes in the sitting alpine division, for example, but other athletes might compete in the blind standing discipline), and sledge hockey and wheelchair curling. The most famous Paralympic sport is probably the summer game of wheelchair rugby, popularized in the documentary, Murderball.

Make no mistake: These are real athletes and real sports. Along with several other ‘able-bodied’ ski instructors, I took a learn-to-monoski clinic several seasons ago. Long story short: None of us had the fine motor control and sense of balance it took to carefully maneuver the monoski without falling over every turn. And then none of us had the upper body strength to right ourselves after each fall. It was a frustrating and painful day, but a real eye-opening experience for each of us.

The Paralympics are always held in the same city as the Olympics, a few days after the conclusion of the Olympic Games. This year’s Paralympics will occur March 12-21 in Vancouver and Whistler.

In the meantime, you can follow Carl on his blog, No Two Are Alike. He has promised to post updates every day between now and the start of the Paralympics, and so far he has made good on his word. I highly recommend that you check it out.

rj.

At Ski Butternut, we believe that everyone should be able to experience the thrill and joy of skiing, and we encourage people with physical and developmental disabilities to give the sport a try. We have specialized equipment and certified instructors who can tailor lessons to each individual’s needs. For more information about our adaptive ski program, please contact Pat White at 413-528-4312 or our ski school at 413-528-2000 ext 150.

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