Skip to comments.America Supports You: Wounded Veterans Take On Snowboarding in Vail
Posted on 03/09/2007 3:42:28 PM PST by SandRat
| VAIL, Colo., March 9, 2007 While many of their comrades learned to ski, three injured veterans hit the snowboard hill under instructors guidance yesterday.
Though all three of the new snowboarders were severely injured while fighting in Iraq -- one is a below-the-knee amputee and the other two each lost an arm -- they came here excited to try this sport.
Its fun just knowing that you can do it, Marine Lance Cpl. Corey Smith said. I never think of anything as if I cant do it.
Smith, who lost his lower left leg while serving in Iraqs Anbar province on Sept. 11, 2005, said he was doing well mastering the fundamentals of snowboarding. He said hes ready to leave the dog bowl, where snowboarding lessons are taught, and head for bigger hills during the next lesson.
Army Spc. J.R. Salzman was feeling confident, as well.
So far, so good, Salzman, said. Ive only fallen a couple of times.
Salzman, who first attempted snowboarding yesterday, lost his right arm below the elbow to a roadside bomb Dec. 19. He also lost the ring finger on his left hand.
But he credits his 22 years participating in professional lumberjack sports for yesterdays successes. Ive been a (log roller) for 22 years, the 27-year-old Salzman said. Its a lot of the same balance and a lot of the same movements.
While the actual process of learning to take a heel edge ride down the hill wasnt daunting for the veterans, other things can lead to anxiety. Salzman said being in a new place can bring insecurities to the surface.
I know I speak for a lot of the guys, (being in a new place is) a bit unnerving, especially sleeping, he said. In Iraq youve always got security, and suddenly youre in a new place you dont have that sense of security.
Along with helping the veterans overcome physical limitations, the Vail Veterans Program also works to help the veterans overcome these types of fears.
Salzman and Smith, along with Army Spc. Jeremiah Homuth, who lost his right arm June 13, impressed their instructors with their determination and heart during yesterdays lesson.
Theyre just as good as any other athletic student Ive ever had, regardless of their amputations, Eric Norton, the veterans instructor and a former Marine, said. Im extremely pleased and very impressed with these guys.
This is Nortons first season working with amputees, but the former Marine said he feels his time served in Iraq helps him to understand his students mindset. Having been in their shoes, having been to Iraq myself, I know exactly where these guys are coming from, he said. Im just giving it all back to them.
And the wounded combat veterans are grateful for his efforts. Hes great. Hes not dumbing us down, and hes working with our injuries, Salzman said. He teaches to your ability.
Whether the veterans become proficient, though, is irrelevant to Norton. He just wants them to have a good time and remember that life continues.
Just because something might happen, you dont have to slow down. You dont have to give up everything, he said. Even if they dont learn to snowboard or ski, as long as they had a good time and tried and proved to themselves that they can still do things, the battles won.
America Supports You
Vail Veterans Program
SNOWBOARDING Wounded Vets at Vail Colorado.
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