Webster definition: the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
Richard’s definition: The synergy of human confidence, passion, courage and intrepid determination needed to survive and to conquer adversity
IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup
In my roll as the Patron of Disabled Wintersport Australia, it was my (and Coral’s) pleasure on Thursday (4 Sept 2013) to attend the slalom racing at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing World Cup on Thredbo’s “World Cup” course.
This was the first time that Australia has hosted a Paralympic Alpine Skiing event. So the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), in conjunction with the IPC and Kosciuszko Thredbo ski resort offered their best efforts to the competitors and guests to guarantee a great series of races.
This World Cup provided an opportunity for all athletes to gain points towards qualification for the Sochi Winter Paralympic Games in March 2014.
I was thrilled and excited to see the world’s best Paralympic Alpine skiers negotiate the steep and icy course.
Vision Impaired Skiers
The Vision Impaired skiers led the charge, with Australia’s Jess Gallagher gaining the Silver Medal for the day. Jess has only 10% vision yet this intrepid skier flattened every pole on her shortest way through the slalom course.
I was emotionally affected to watch Lindsay Ball race down the course.
In a display of the most remarkable teamwork and mutual trust, Lindsay, a 100% blind skier, successfully negotiated the treacherous ice slalom track at high speed.
Lindsay followed and was guided by Dianne Barris, who radioed commands through an intercom, and blasted the same out through a backpack mounted speaker.
On reaching the bottom of the course, she had to place her hand upon Dianne’s shoulder to walk off the course!
Stand Up Skiers
The stand up skiers showed the spectators what can be achieved when we consider our capabilities from a GLASS HALF FULL attitude (of ability), rather than the traditional GLASS HALF EMPTY approach of disability.
The famous Heather Mills skied brilliantly as did others who showed that the loss of a limb did not slow racing times!
Finally the sit skiers torqued their mono skis round the course at a speed faster than 99% of the normal population could muster.
Just as I have been touched by my new associations with members of Disabled WinterSport Australia, I have been humbled to meet the members of the Australian and International Paralympic Committees.
There is so much more pleasure in giving than receiving. Although the proud Paralympians declined almost every offer I gave to assist them during the races, I still felt privileged to observe, cheer and promote the event.
My views were echoed by Qantas Flight Attendant Amanda Gannon.
Amanda has been a Disabled WinterSport Australia volunteer guide for four years. She is passionate about helping people with disabilities adapt to the snow.
Amanda joined us at the World Cup to cheer and support vision impaired Jess Gallagher, a DWA graduate who hopes to qualify for the Sochi Winter Paralympic Games in 2014.
“I’ve had many amazing times at DWA” Amanda added, “It’s so rewarding to ski with people who want to experience the sport that I love, and inspiring to help them adapt to the challenges on the snow. Their contagious beaming smiles confirm every feeling we are trying to share.”
“I’m so committed to DWA that I have just taken the next step and qualified as an adaptive instructor (at the Perisher ski resort).
Lessons from the IPC World Cup
I have been on a continuous learning experience since July 2013 when the Governor General announced my position as Patron of Disabled WinterSport Australia.
I have discovered that the lessons of inverting the logic during my QF32 experience, that enabled me to understand the damaged A380, can be applied to resilience for the human condition as well.
The fastest Australian skier and the world’s fastest runner are both amputees!
From a business perspective, the the 100% blind Lindsay Ball and her racing guide Dianne Barrise exhibit a case study for TEAMWORK. For it is not easy to build effective teams. We need commitment and effort to build effective teams regardless of whether we work in a large multinational company or a small business.
During Lindsay and Dianne’s races, we saw and heard the girls constantly challenge-respond to each other. We realised that a sphere of absolute TRUST enshrouded both girls as they skidded down over the steep ice for what I envisage must have been a terrifying experience .
During their race I observed all the fundamental essence and ingredients of teamwork at their best! Lindsay and Dianne’s constant COMMUNCIATIONS engendered TRUST, that REMOVED CONFLICT, that in turn nurtured CONFIDENCE and COMMITMENT. Every time Dianne looked backwards, up the slope towards Lindsay, I saw a great leader who felt ACCOUNTABLE and RESPONSIBLE TO MONITOR THE RESULTS.
Looking back over my 45 years on snow, I have never seen a more focused, happy, friendly and inspired group as the World Cup teams.
There was no complacency, complaining or winging by any person at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup, only unbridled energy, passion and love of the sport and companions.
Resilience and teamwork – humanity at its best.
Congratulations to all the skiers who raced in the IPC World Cup.
Thank you to the International and Australian Paralympic Committees, Disabled WinterSport Australia and to the Kosciuszko Thredbo ski resort for contributing to a spectacular world event!
Click here if you are interested to become a volunteer guide for Disabled WinterSport Australia. It is a most worthy cause.