Member Profile - Blair Gillam

"You will quickly fall in love with the freedom that skiing brings. You will never find another atmosphere like the one that the mountain brings. Good times, good friends, great sport."

How long have you been skiing?

12 years

Why do you ski

Pure enjoyment, speed, excitement, enjoy the environment.

Describe your best day skiing

The best day skiing is after a big snowfall, when there is plenty of fresh powder, and there is nobody around. The sun is shining and you can see for miles and miles, and you share the day with good mates and have heaps of laughs and a great time.

Who do you ski with?

Disabled Snowsports Wairarapa (local branch), my Partner Melanie, and her brothers Wayne and Michael. I'm teaching them all how to ski, it's lots of laughs.

Where do you ski?

Whakapapa, mostly, occasionally Turoa. If I'm very lucky at Cardrona for Nationals.

What type of snow do you like?

Fresh powder laying on top of a groomed track.

What is your disability?

I was born with Cerebral Palsy, which affected the strength of my whole left side of my body, with Scoliosis in my spine. Then in 2003 had a big car crash and became a paraplegic. My car accident happened during the winter season, when I was working at Whakapapa as a lift operator, and living in Turangi.

How does your disability affect your skiing?

As I can't stand I ski in a mono ski, and my left hand can't hold onto the outrigger too well due to lack of strength.

How has adaptive snowsports helped you?

If it wasn't for DSNZ I may not have ever tried skiing. They make it affordable for me to ski a few times a year, and as my disability and abilities have changed, they have made it possible for a whole new means of skiing.

How did you first find out about skiing?

My teacher was the president of the Wairarapa Ski club many years ago.

How did you learn to ski?

Lots of practice, and under the training of Roy Frampton, the head Adaptive Ski Coach at Whakapapa.

Who taught you?

Roy, Gavin Jones (Wairarapa ski instructor), Barry Wickens (President and instructor Wairarapa Ski Club).

Tell us about your first time ever skiing

Can't really remember, was sooo many years ago!

If you could tell the world about your skiing story what would you want to tell them?

Keep off my mountain, lol.

I would tell the world that skiing is one of the best things in the world. I loved skiing from day one, and I was never going to let my disability get in the way of that. After I had my car accident, this outlook still didn't change. I embraced the challenge of having to learn a completely new way of skiing, and am still enjoying it just as much as I did the first time I hit the snow. It doesn't matter if your able bodied or not, there is a style to suit. You will quickly fall in love with the freedom that skiing brings. You will never find another atmosphere like the one that the mountain brings. Good times, good friends, great sport.

What do you not like about going skiing?

The accessibility of the mountain, mainly from the car park to the bottom lift. Wheelchairs and snow don't mix!

If we (DSNZ) could do one thing to make your skiing experience better, what would it be?

Not much. DSNZ are pretty good to us.

Does skiing help with your physical fitness?

It must do cause I'm always sore afterwards! I don't really ski often enough to make a big difference in my physical fitness though.

Have you had the opportunity to compete in any ski races?

When I was younger, and standing I competed a few times at Nationals at Cardrona. Since being in a Mono ski, I have only competed once at Nationals.

I like racing, and I especially like the GS.

In 2005 I competed in the Peak to Powder keg race down Turoa. Starting at the Top of the High Noon Turoa T-Bar, we skied to the car park. Competitors then had to run 5km down the access road, as I pushed myself in my chair. At the 5km mark, competitors then switched to their bikes and rode the next 13km down to the powder keg in Ohakune, and I just kept pushing. Once reaching the pub you had to skull a pint of Speights to finish the race. I found that the hardest part as I don't like Speights, lol. I was the first wheelie to ever compete in the race, and got a prize for reaching 50km/hr pushing down the road.

Do you go to the Disabled Snowsports Festival & National Championships, Why?

Yes, some years I try to make it. It's an awesome week of skiing and socialising, meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I enjoy the racing and the coaching we receive. I would like to take my racing competitively but am unable to afford the full time training it would take.

Use five words to describe what skiing means to for you?

Freedom

Equitability

(To be equal with everybody on the mountain, my disability doesn't matter)

Speed

Lifestyle

Awesome!

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