By Aiden Kemp
Hello, I’m Aiden Kemp and this is my life as a skier…
Since I was three years old I’ve loved to ski, so much so that I used to know the mountain I grew up skiing on like the back of my hand. I would seek out any hidden trail through the trees and I could quickly lose any trailing friends that were skiing with me and just glide through the snow in those shadow and light blended forest areas. If there was some really nice snow I would launch myself down the hill into a steep turn that makes you feel like your gonna be crushed into the ground (yet I never crashed doing that.) The terrain park was the other half of my occupation on the hill; (as young skiers usually spend most of their time there) I would usually pass all of the smaller jumps and rails and head straight for the one of the two large jumps at the bottom and every once in awhile successfully land it before hitting a nice hidden tree run below the jump.
Five years ago I was paralyzed from my chest down from an autoimmune response called Transverse Myelitis in which my body attacked, inflamed, and damaged the nerves around T6 on my spinal cord. I originally lost almost all fine motor skills and my ability to breathe but I managed to regain them not too long after. I was introduced to adaptive sports almost right out of rehabilitation and was able to enjoy a few weeks of adaptive skiing about a year after rehabilitation.
Over the next few years, I did some more adaptive skiing and progressed to steeper terrain. The adaptive program in Spokane was kind of small and the equipment that was available did not fit me well, but it was better than not skiing. I started out at that program in a bi-ski and was eventually able to advance to the mono-ski; though at the time I was not super confident and I was still getting used to the feel of the skis.
Late last year we moved up here to Alaska and I started with the Challenge Alaska ski program. Because I was new to the program they started me in a bi-ski and I was able to progress with good technique to the mono-ski in just three weeks. I am still learning and Improving in my skiing technique, and though it’s definitely different and challenging, it’s still the same feeling of carving snow and exploring the mountain which is amazing!
I really appreciate what Anika and Taylor have done and a huge thank you for selecting me for the grant and making this a reality!Aiden Kemp