Skiing with Amanda

Amanda Timm (aka Shorty) is a little lady that everyone should be so lucky to meet. With a big smile on her face she approaches everything she does with a sense of calm, confidence and a little sass. Having spent four years coaching big mountain/ freeride clubs in Alberta and BC, I am surprised it took us this long to meet. Last ski season she was leading the pack for freeskiers her age on the competition circuit- skiing out of Fernie and participating in the junior freeski circuit.

In February of last year, while in the lead at the Fernie Junior Freeski competition, Amanda fell and hit a tree in her final run. The horrific crash had horrific results. She had severely damaged her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

It didn’t take long for Amanda’s story to spread through the intimate network of the ski world. For myself, and a close group of female skiing friends- it was a hard pill to swallow. We had recently seen another close friend suffer a spinal cord injury and were well aware of the harsh realities of the injury. As young, active females, competitors, coaches and freeriders, without even knowing Amanda, we were all affected by it… The story hit especially close to home and each in our own way did what we could to help. (Amanda’s accident actually inspired the 2012 Rad Boob Club Calendar www.radboob.com)

Our path never crossed until August of last year when plans for Live It! Love It!‘s inaugral camp were in motion.. Spots had been reserved for BC residing individuals with Spinal Cord Injuries, but when two weeks before the camp, there was still room to fill I emailed Amanda to see if she would like to come. I was hesitant because I knew she was still in Rehabilitation for her injury and wasn’t sure if she would be physically or emotionally ready to participate in a 3 day adrenaline pumping adventure camp.

Was I ever wrong. Amanda rsvp’d to my invitation immediately with an enthusiastic yes. She would be the only girl at the camp, and the only one who had not yet been released from Rehab but from what I had heard about Amanda, fear of new and unfamiliar situations were not going to stop her.

The first day of the camp- we sat on the grass and introduced ourselves. The participants consisted of 12 individuals- all who had sustained life altering spinal cord injuries in the past 5 years. The common thread was that each individual had injured themselves doing something they loved, skiing, mountain biking, dirt biking, kayaking and were now overcoming the barrier of paralysis in returning to sport, and returning to life.

Amanda rolled in a few minutes late, on to the grass and with a huge smile announced who she was and where she was from. The next morning as we rolled out to the Bungee Jump session I asked her if she was nervous- she replied quietly “nope, I’ve done it before”. She was the second one to jump off the bridge with that million dollar smile on her face.

As the camp progressed I couldn’t help but see a little of myself in Amanda, always looking for a rush, always up to do something a little bit scary.. I thought about her skiing and sensed she she felt the same connection to the freedom of flying down a mountain with skis on her feet that I did, and I wondered how it felt to have that threatened…

This month marked a special few days in Amanda’s recovery… She got to try sit skiing for the first time at Sunshine Village Ski Resort with the Rocky MOuntain Adaptive Sports Centre. She spent three days with instructors and volunteers, bearing the wind, cold, and impact of the groomed slope with every fall. I got to join Amanada on her monoski on the third day. Sore and tired she spent the entire day lapping the Strawberry lift, with intense determination to make it down without a fall. Focused, Amanda worked on finding the sweet spot, carving her turns and leaving the tethers and ropes that the instructors used initially to help her out behind. By the end of the final day she was flying over rollers and taking air, charging around corners and smiling while she picked herself up after a fall, it was pretty obvious, once again that passion overcomes fear for Amanda.

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Watching Amanda link together turns for the first time was incredible and inspirational, and her passion for getting back into the sport reminded me of all the amazing gifts that being part of a the ski community at large brings us. Support, freedom and friendship to name just a few… We are all so lucky to be a part of this amazing world of skiing and mountain life!!

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