GoHawkeye Athlete Update- Stuart Olsen

Stuart Olsen – Photo by Aglaia Olsen

By Stuart Olsen

As a person with a disability, being active is very important. There are limited opportunities for people with disability to be active and enjoy life while doing it.

I started playing wheelchair basketball for fun and I quickly realized that it is a great way to stay healthy and in shape. It is important for me, as a person who is a double amputee to stay active so that I can keep my weight in check.

Skiing is another activity that I enjoy that keeps me active and would improve my life in a different way than basketball. I see skiing as a peaceful and calming activity, where I get to enjoy the environment. My goal is to stay active for long time, and playing basketball and skiing will help me do that.

Stuart Olsen on an adventure in Bulgaria.

Four years ago, I had the opportunity to try adaptive skiing for the first time. I fell in love with the feeling of peace one experiences when gliding downhill. When I first started, I borrowed a program ski. It was a good ski, for beginners, but it was not fit for me. I found myself having to adjust belts and paddings at the bottom of every run, which takes time away from the actual activity. Also, it is unsettling to be a little loose here and there whilst trying to navigate a monoski down a hillside. After a short hiatus, I decided that getting my own ski would be the best path forward towards greater enjoyment of skiing. It would not only give me the ability to improve on the slopes but enable greater independence. After working with GoHawkeye, and being selected for a grant, I purchased a KBG Taja.

Stuart at Steven’s Pass Resort, Washington on his KBG Taja sit ski.

I remember this one Thursday in December, I stayed up until 5 am working on my ski, eager to have it ready for the slopes. I have taken the Taja up a number of times, and it has been amazing. Performing with something that has been built for you is a difference maker. I am currently learning about carving and sliding, hoping to work my way up to black diamond runs.

“None of this would have been possible if it was not for the financial assistance from GoHawkeye. Without their support, I would have remained on my hiatus, with my true ski potential unrealized.” -Stuart Olsen

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