Ski Utah: Making Magic On The Mountain


Ski Utah Making Magic On The MountainThank you to Ski Utah for sharing this video and story about National Ability Center at Park City Mountain. Thank you to Vail Resorts for partnering with me on this project.

Making Magic on the Mountain: National Ability Center and Park City Mountain

I grew up skiing on Park City Mountain watching skiers wearing bibs that read: “Blind Skier.” I always wondered, “How do they do that?” Finally this year, I had the honor of spending the day with the incredible team that makes magic and miracles happen on the mountain.

The National Ability Center has been changing lives for over thirty years. People who want to ski can have that opportunity no matter their ability level or age. The NAC helps families who have children or adults of different abilities all find a way to participate together in the outdoors. The NAC Programs are inclusive and multi-faceted. There are year-round programs where they teach skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, river-rafting and much more

Spending a morning on the slopes with Jennifer Kennedy who has a visual impairment and her NAC instructor Patricia Stokes helped me understand what it takes to learn this sport without vision. NAC is also training Kennedy’s husband to be her skiing guide.

There are many people who have differences in their physical, cognitive or developmental abilities. In fact, according to the CDC, one in five American adults live with some kind of disability. Our physical condition may change due to injury or an illness like Parkinson, Multiple Sclerosis or Alzheimers. As people live longer there is a higher likelihood that their physical, cognitive or emotional condition will evolve and they will need a new way to be out on the mountain. NAC has programs for people of all ages, ability levels and conditions. If you want to know more, they welcome volunteers to come once a week or once a year during a ski holiday.

I spent an afternoon skiing with Matt Krumweide who was serving our country in Afghanistan when he was injured in June 2012. He lost both legs above the knee and now uses a wheelchair. Krumweide wants to purchase his own mono-ski and came to NAC to learn how to ride the slopes and have a good time.


“If I can do it, anyone can do it. If you have a disability, they can figure it out and you can go skiing. I enjoy this a lot. It’s freedom. I love it.”—Krumweide told me at the top of the mountain. 

it’s not what you can’t do

The entire team at NAC are highly trained and amazing people. I enjoyed learning about their teaching philosophies. Instructor Chris Gaillard shared his style: “I do not want to ask anyone what you can’t do. I want to know what you can do. We never ever tell someone they can’t do something, we will figure it out. However much duct tape and padding it takes, we are going to get everyone out and having fun.” Spending time with Chris, I saw that it takes science, artistry, coaching and persistence but they are ready to teach anyone who wants to learn to ski or snowboard.

“Park City Mountain offers access to NAC and their participants so that people of all abilities can be active on the mountain,”—explained Ratchford.

Davy Ratchford is the Senior Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliance from the Park City Vail Resorts Team. Ratchford told me about the EpicPromise program of Vail Resorts and how they work with 30 different non-profits in the area and are supportive of all that NAC is doing on their mountain. Additionally, he told me that: “All the lift operators are trained to help everyone enjoy their day here.” Park City Mountain is one of my most favorite places to ski and now to volunteer.

I hope you can see why I love Park City Mountain for its stunning slopes, beautiful vistas and incredible team members. The EPIC Promise that supports National Ability Center lets all athletes challenge their limitations and make their dreams come true. I hope you will focus on what you can do and share how we can all be stronger together. Remember you can do anything you choose to do!

After exploring 99 countries and sailing for seven years on the high seas, Lisa Niver is ready for more active adventures! Find her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.5 million views on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and YouTube. Her stories include Dutch designer villas for Luxury Magazine, interviewing Fabien Cousteau for Delta Sky and writing about WWII for Smithsonian and Saturday Evening Post. Her favorite stories have come from skiing with the National Ability Center. Find more of Lisa’s stories on InstagramFacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Ski Utah Making Magic On The Mountain

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. You can find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.3 million views on her YouTube channel. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed an Olympic swimmer and numerous bestselling authors and has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. She was named both a Top 10 Travel Influencer and a Top 50 Female Influencer for 2021 by Afluencer and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. She has been nominated for the inaugural Forbes 50 over 50/Know Your Value list due out in Summer 2021. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best and has more than 150,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and has also run 15 travel competitions publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on We Said Go Travel. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded two Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. From 2017 to 2021 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won four times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won in 2021 as Book Critic and in 2019 for one of her KTLA TV segments NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards and a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal. Niver has written for National Geographic, USA Today 10best, TODAY, Teen Vogue, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave(ish): It's All About Perspective 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. When she's not SCUBA diving or in her art studio making ceramics, she's helping people find their next dream trip.

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