Feb 04, 2016
Blind and Visually Impaired Skiers Attend 9th Annual Ski Camp at Pico Mountain
U.S. Association of Blind Athletes and Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports host largest gathering in the nation
KILLINGTON, Vt. (Jan. 27, 2016) – The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is pleased to partner with Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport again to host the 9th annual Winter Ski Festival at Pico Mountain, Feb. 5-8. For nearly a decade, USABA and Vermont Adaptive have worked together to coordinate an event where Americans who are blind and visually impaired can participate in Alpine skiing, snowboarding and Nordic skiing. The event continues to be the largest annual gathering of skiers in the United States who are blind and visually impaired.
This year, 30 participants, including seven military veterans will attend; the most participants to date. In some cases, participants will be attending this ski camp as their first time skiing without sight. Among these skier will be Marine Corps Veteran Tim Fallon (Derwood, Md.).
Fallon was blinded after an IED attack in 2010 while serving in the Second Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment. This will be Fallon’s first event with USABA, and he already plans to become more involved.
“I have almost no usable sight and used to be a decent and fearless skier,” said Fallon. “I’m looking forward to getting back to skiing at the Vermont camp.”
Fallon will attend the camp with his wife, who will learn to guide.
“We would like to learn how to work as a team to ski together and teach our toddler to ski, eventually,” said Fallon. “It’s really wonderful that organizations like this exist to give individuals the ability to learn something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to learn.”
Participants will ski at Pico Mountain on Saturday and Sunday with an option to practice Nordic skiing on Sunday at Mountain Meadows Cross Country Ski Area. On Sunday, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, Nordic skiing participants will practice biathlon with Vermont Adaptive’s auditory rifle system, the same system used for competition in Nordic Combined in the Paralympics.
U.S. Association of Blind Athletes
Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports
Jan 25, 2016
USA Women’s Goalball Takes SILVER In Pajulahti Games
By: Amanda Weldon
On Sunday, USA’s Women’s Goalball Team took SILVER in a close draw against Russia, ending in a shootout. The score was 2-2 in regular time, Russia barely overcoming USA with a final score of 6-4 in overtime.
The following athletes traveled to Finland to compete:
- Jen Armbruster (Portland, Ore./Portland, Ore.)
- Lisa Czechowski (Boonton, N.J./Tucson, Ariz.)
- Amanda Dennis (Peachtree City, Ga./Peachtree City, Ga.)
- Asya Miller (Leeper,Mich./Portland, Ore.)
- Eliana Mason (Portland, Ore./Portland, Ore.)
- Marybai Huking (Plain City, Ut./Plain City, Ut.)
- Head Coach: Ken Armbruster (Colorado Springs, CO./Colorado Springs, CO.)
- Assistant Coach: Jake Czechowski (Tucson, AZ./Tucson, AZ.)
With a tight match up, Russia scored against Asya Miller and Lisa Czechowski, but quickly turned around when Jen Armbruster blocked Russia’s shot and fired back to tie the game 2-2.
“I was more nervous to play Russia in round robin play than in the championship game because we hadn't played against Russia in a long time,” said Miller. USA competed in seven games during the tournament, with a win of 2-1 in the round robin game against Russia. The tournament included six teams that have already qualified for the Paralympic Games.
Although the game ended at 6-4 to Russia, Miller believed it to be “good for the young ones to get the shootout experience now” as they prepare for Rio.
“We got to try out some different combinations throughout the tournament and really work on mistakes we have had in previous tournaments leading up to this one,” said Amanda Dennis.
At this time, the women’s team is in full gear as they prepare for the Rio Games coming up this September. The team uses tournaments like this as a step towards their objectives.
“This season is about working on our weaknesses and developing our strengths and playing in this tournament is giving us a lot of experience against our competition,” said Dennis. “We know that all the teams are going to play their best in Rio, and we're looking to show them what our team is all about.”
USA’s Women’s Goalball Team will play again at the Lady Malmo Intercup in Sweden, where they will continue to work on their goals as they get ready to take the world stage later this year.
USA's Women's National Goalball Team standing in front of the Pajulahti Games' banner and goal as Jen Armbruster and Asya Miller hold the silver medal trophies. All six players stand with excitement on their face has they've taken one step closer to their goals.
Jan 21, 2016
USABA Paralympians Thank Their Mentors
By: Courtney Patterson
Mentors provide advice, encouragement and support. They help us through hard times and celebrate our victories with us. They listen and empathize, teach and counsel.
For Paralympians Amanda Dennis (Peachtree, Ga.) and Tucker Dupree (Raleigh, N.C.), mentors also provide a positive outlook and encouragement when training seems overwhelming and when life gets tough.
Paralympic swimmer, Tucker Dupree met his mentor, Jeannine Carpenter, in North Carolina when he was 15 years old - before he began losing his sight.
"She was my club coach," said Dupree. "She was coaching me when I started going blind."
Dupree and Carpenter started their Paralympic journey together with Dupree's first Paralympic swim meet in 2007. She's been coaching him ever since.
"The biggest thing with her is how positive she is," said Dupree. "When everyone is tired after competition and travel, she's always saying positive things to keep us going."
When the pressure builds, Carpenter reminds Dupree of the journey they started together and where they're headed. Carpenter knows from their time together when Dupree needs a pep talk.
"She knows my shticks.. she's always positive and happy in those situations. Her aura and mantra is great because travel is tough, competition is tough."
Outside of the pool, Dupree turns to Carpenter when life gets tough. "She's a great sounding board. We probably talk every week - about what's going on with swimming but also life. She's abest friend - someone I can turn to with anything."
When Dupree won his first medal at the London Paralympic Games, the first person he wanted to talk to was Carpenter.
"She's been there, supporting me. It's been from the beginning to the end. With all the obstacles we've faced together, when I step on the block, it's great to know I have her supporting me. I know that no matter the outcome, she'll be there."
Paralympic goalball athlete, Amanda Dennis also finds support from her mentor, on and off the goalball court. Her mentor is teammate, Lisa Czechowski.
"I love playing with her because she’s always very positive, and offers a lot of encouragement on the court. Whenever I’m feeling frustrated, it helps to have Lisa's positive energy on the court."
But before Dennis identified her as a mentor, Czechowski was Dennis' role-model. The two met at a sports camp in Atlanta when Dennis was 8. The camp was Dennis' first exposure to an elite goalball athlete like Czechowski. Dennis looked up to Czechowski after attending the camp but it wasn't until a few years later, at a goalball tournament in New Jersey, that Dennis identified Czechowski as someone she truly wanted to emulate.
"I instantly thought Lisa was an amazing player," recounts Dennis. "She carried her team effectively and had one of the best throws on the court. But it wasn’t just her skill that made me think she was a great role-model - it was the way she carried herself, she showed confidence in her playing ability and style, passion for Goalball, and knowledge of the game."
"As a center, I look up to her most because she was USA’s starting center when they took home Gold at Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008."
It was the following year Dennis was invited to attend her first training camp with the National Team. Here, she got the opportunity to train alongside her role-model, not something many athletes get the opportunity to do.
"[Lisa] stood out as a great leader, and was one of the best all-around throwers that our program had to offer. I knew at that point that I wanted to be just as great of a player as Lisa."
From Dennis' first experience with goalball at the Blaze Sports camp to attending her first training camp,
Czechowski remained a positive influence. On and off the goalball court, Dennis still turns to Czechowski for advice.
"She’s someone who has always been very approachable, so it’s always been easy to ask her questions about anything, whether it’s how to better develop specialty throws, or interesting steps in my school and career paths, she’s been there to offer her experience and advice along the way."
"Over the years it’s been such a great opportunity to learn from her," said Dennis. "Even today I learn and benefit by watching her play and being able to play with her. It’s one of the best feelings ever to be able to call her one of my teammates and stand side-by-side with someone that I look up to as much as Lisa."
Dennis traveled with Czechowski to the London Paralympic Games in 2012 and hopes to travel with her to a second Paralympic Games in Rio this September.
Take a moment to thank your mentor today for their support, positive influence and encouragement.
Photo courtesy of Tucker Dupree. Tucker, standing beside his mentor Jeannine, after he won his first medal in London.
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