Disabled Sports USA to Host U.S. Paralympians At Hartford Ski Spectacular

Paul Pinkerton
Olena Iurkovska of Ukraine competing on cross-country sit-skis at the 2010 Winter Paralympics
Olena Iurkovska of Ukraine competing on cross-country sit-skis at the 2010 Winter Paralympics

Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) will host the 29th annual The Hartford Ski Spectacular Nov. 28 – Dec. 4 at Beaver Run Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge, Colo.

The week-long event, sponsored by The Hartford, is one of the nation’s largest winter sports festivals for individuals with physical disabilities. More than 800 participants, ranging in ability from first-time skiers to members of the U.S. Paralympic Team, come together to kick off the winter season with races and competitions that train and prepare athletes for national and international competition.

Among the participants will be more than 100 wounded service members, family and military staff from the U.S. and Great Britain, Boston Marathon bombing survivors, U.S. Paralympic champions such as medalists Alana Nichols, Evan Strong, Mike Shea, Danelle Umstead and 20 young U.S. Paralympic hopefuls. Athletes include Lonnie Bedwell who was the first blind kayaker to complete the entire length of the Grand Canyon.


“My amputation changed my life and because of events like The Hartford Ski Spectacular, I learned how to embrace my disability,” said Michael Shea, 2014 Silver medalist in Sochi. “It ultimately brought me more opportunity and because of that I am doing more with one leg then I ever did with two legs.”

“For 22 years, The Hartford has partnered with us to produce an event that helps so many of our athletes achieve their goals,” said Kirk Bauer, JD, executive director of DSUSA and a disabled Vietnam Veteran.

“Through world-class instruction, a community of supporters and the Rocky Mountains, this event continues to inspire, impact and produce gold-medal athletes.”

“Learn to” programs in alpine and Nordic skiing, biathlon, sled hockey, curling and snowboarding will be offered. In addition to these lessons, The Hartford Ski Spectacular also strengthens and expands adaptive snow sports programs in communities throughout the United States by training staff and volunteers at DSUSA chapters in the national adaptive academy.

The ski instructor academy endorsed by Professional Ski Instructors of America – American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) offers training for instructors in the latest and safest adaptive ski and snowboard techniques for skiers with disabilities.


“The Hartford is proud to have sponsored this impactful and inspiring program for more than two decades,” says Mike Concannon, executive vice president of The Hartford’s Group Benefits business. “Through our partnerships with DSUSA we seek to demonstrate that people are defined by their ability, and that almost anything – including disability – can be overcome with the right technology, team and resources behind you.”

The Hartford, a founding partner of U.S. Paralympics, has been the title sponsor of The Hartford Ski Spectacular since 1994. The Hartford Ski Spectacular’s Presenting Sponsor is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Grants for Adaptive Sports Programs for Disabled Veterans and Disabled Members of the Armed Forces Program provides funding to organizations to increase, expand and enhance the quantity and quality of adaptive sport activities available for disabled veterans and members of the armed forces to participate in physical activity within their home communities, as well as more advanced U.S. Paralympic and adaptive sport programs at the regional and national levels.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides essential equipment and technical support to The Hartford Ski Spectacular. For more information on VA Adaptive Sports programs visit http://www.va.gov/adaptivesports.

The event is also sponsored by Wash Depot; Veritas; Bob Woodruff Foundation; Team Semper Fi; Tee it up for the Troops; DAV Charitable Service Trust, Oshkosh Defense, Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center, Breckenridge Ski Resort, and Breck Sports. Partnering organizations include Professional Ski Instructors of America-American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA/AASI), Vail Adaptive Sports, USA Curling, Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation and Breck Sports. Participating DSUSA Chapters include Host Chapter: Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center; Education Chapter: National Sports Center for the Disabled; Contributing Chapters: Adaptive Adventures, Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte, New England Disabled Sports, Oregon Adaptive Sports, Outdoors for All Foundation, and Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports.

Follow the action at The Hartford Ski Spectacular on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Look for @DisabledSportUS and #skispec on Twitter and Disabled Sports USA on Facebook, as well as @TheHartford on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. To get involved and pledge support, please visit https://www.disabledsportsusa.org/get-involved/donate/.



Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting us all with the Outdoors


jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival