Northeast Passage Establishes Paralympic Athlete Development Center For Nordic Skiing
By Keely Ames, Northeast Passage
February 14, 2007
Northeast Passage has recently secured a contract with U.S. Paralympics,
a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, to develop Nordic skiers with
physical disabilities and/or visual impairments for elite level competition.
The Paralympic Games is an international competition among each nation’s
elite athletes with physical disabilities and is second in size only
to the Olympic Games. The Paralympic Games follow the Olympic Games at
the same venues and facilities. The next Winter Paralympic Games will
be held in 2010 in Vancouver, British Colombia.
As part of the U.S. Paralympics’ new strategy, Northeast Passage
is currently one of two sites in the country for grassroots Nordic development.
The other is Park City, Utah.
The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in Jackson will be the main training
site for this program. Jackson has a long history of hosting and developing
adaptive cross country skiing and held the World Championships for Disabled
Nordic Skiing in 1990.
“This is a superb opportunity to partner with Northeast Passage,” said
Thom Perkins, executive director of JacksonXC. “This program offers
folks with mobility impairments an introduction to the wonderful winter
sport of cross country skiing.”
The Weston Ski Track in Weston, Mass., will also serve as a training
Former Paralympian Craig Gray of Scarborough, Me., competed in Nagano
in 1998. He says he is excited about the prospect of new, young athletes
joining the sport.
“The United States will see better results in Nordic skiing when
we match young athletes up with coaches who can teach them the discipline
and techniques it will take to win at the world class level, while their
endurance capacity is still increasing,” said Gray. “This
program has the potential to drastically change the sport of disabled
Northeast Passage is a program of UNH’s School of Health and Human
Services, and is an affiliate of Disabled Sports USA. Northeast Passage
develops and delivers innovative, barrier-free recreation and health
promotion programs. Northeast Passage is also a Paralympic Athlete Development
Center and offers student-athletes the opportunity to train and attend
the University of New Hampshire.
Northeast Passage is looking for interested athletes to participate
in this new program. This opportunity is open to people with physical
disabilities and individuals with visual impairments, ages 8-35. No previous
skiing experience necessary. For more information, visit the Northeast
Passage Web site (www.nepassage.org) for “Learn to Ski” group
dates or call 2-0070 to schedule a private lesson to try the sport or