Ski for Light Canada is an annual event that pairs blind and low vision cross-country skiers with a sighted guide for a week of skiing and social events. The 42nd annual 2020 event was held at William Watson Lodge in Kananaskis. The 2021 event will be held Feb 1-7 at the same location. Click here for more information for skiers and guides. Click here for details of the upcoming 2021 event.
Ski for Light Canada Inc. is an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization for blind and visually impaired skiers. It was founded in 1978, modelled on Ski for Light USA which began in 1975. Ski for Light Canada Inc. was originally formed by Sons of Norway and various ski clubs.
The six day event is held annually in early February in one of the three western provinces: Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. At the event, blind and visually impaired adults can enjoy cross country skiing and social events. Each visually impaired skier is paired for the week with an experienced, sighted cross-country skier who acts as a guide. The visually impaired person skis in tracks groomed into the snow, while the guide skis in a parallel set of tracks. The guide provides directions, skiing tips, as well as support and encouragement.
Typically an average of 35 skiers and 35 guides attend each event. Most guides and skiers return each year, with some attending since 1978! The event incorporates lots of skiing, fun and social evenings. The week culminates with the well attended races followed by an awards banquet. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are presented to the race winners in various categories. Skiers can race for 2.5km, 5km or 10km. The categories are B1 for no vision, B2 for up to 5% vision and B3 for 5-10% vision.
Attendees, both skiers and guides, form strong bonds and friendships and discover that a disability does not need to be a barrier to accomplishing goals, on and off of the snow.
As a blind or partially sighted skier, you will be paired up for the week with a guide. No previous skiing experience is required, guides are responsible and supportive, happy to instruct beginners. You meet on the first night and discuss what you hope to do and how you want to work together. You ski as much or as little as you want. Your guide accompanies you on the trails and is also often available to help out and socialize at meals. All of the sighted volunteers are mindful and helpful, regardless of who they're skiing with.
The blind and visually impaired skiers gain a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to participate in a recreational activity that allows them to be more active.
You will be paired for the week with a blind or partially sighted skier. The match will be based on mutual ability and other factors. This pairing is necessary to form the bond of trust, communication and clarity that is so important for a visually impaired skier to feel safe and have fun during the week. Some skier-guide partnerships have lasted 15 years, while some guides enjoy the fun of guiding someone new. People sometimes improvise and trade off and there is an opportunity for guides to do some skiing on their own or in groups on the Friday free day or when their skier decides not to go skiing. Guiding is a commitment, but a rewarding one.
New guides may want to know how to interact with people who are blind or visually impaired. Guides who share the experience of cross country skiing discover: "The three keys to more abundant living: caring about others, daring for others, sharing with others" William Arthur Ward
The events are held in Western Canada. All venues are blind friendly. Trails are always double tracked so that skiers and guides can ski side by side. When not held at William Watson Lodge, the event is held in a more conventional resort where accommodation are in a fully equipped hotel with a short bus ride to and from the skiing area each day.
The Ski for Light Canada motto is; "If I can do this, I can do anything"
Our logo represents a 4,000 year old rock carving found in Norway, providing the first evidence of skiing in world history.
Top skiers will receive medals to commemorate their achievement.