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Adaptive athletes ski their way into Park City

National Ability Center Huntsman Cup- Alpine Ski Racing Paralympic Qualifier
National Ability Center
National Ability Center Huntsman Cup- Alpine Ski Racing Paralympic Qualifier

The National Ability Center is excited about the progress on its new facility at Park City Mountain but move-in day is a ways off. It’s the upcoming Huntsman Cup they’re talking about right now.

The Huntsman Cup, an International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) Para alpine skiing competition, has been held in Park City and hosted by the National Ability Center for 34 years.

Para alpine skiing is a form of alpine skiing for disabled athletes.

National Ability Center Program Manager Tracy Meier said participants are hoping to make the U.S. National Team and compete in the Winter Paralympics games.

The event has three categories of competitors: those who are blind or visually impaired; stand-up athletes (which includes a variety of disabilities); and mono skiers. Mono skiing is a single ski on which a person can stand with both feet and which is equipped with a handle bar that also serves as a brake. Also, monoskiers use riggers for balance and steering to be able to turn and assist themselves onto the lift.

In advance of the event, athletes are going through full race training now. That includes being on the hill five days a week, doing dry land training, and off-season training in the spring and summer.

One of the athletes competing in mono skiing is Zach Williams.

Williams was born without his tibia bones and had amputations when he was a year and a half old. He has worn prosthetics ever since.

Williams began skiing four years ago, and this will be his first competitive season. He discovered the sport through an adaptive skiing program at Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff. He later discovered the NAC because it is one of the two main places in the country where mono skiers train.

Williams lived in Los Angeles for 15 years before selling his house to fully fund his training. One of his goals is to make it to the Paralympic or World Cup stage.

“So aiming for the development team this year. If I can get on to the development team and kind of be, you know, farther into the pipeline, start getting more resources, more training.”

The NAC is also looking for volunteers to be course slippers and gatekeepers. Go to nac.org for details.

The event will take place starting at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 1 and run through Feb. 3 at Park City Mountain on the CB’s run just below the Eagle chair lift. Spectating is open to the public and free to attend.

The first two days of competition will be GS and on the third day, there will be two two runs of slalom.

A link to more information can be found here.