At one of Denver’s closest ski resorts, the community and local ‘get-to-know ya’ skiing feel is alive and well. Eldora Mountain is the home base for Snow Strokers.
Founder Rick Herrmann created Snow Strokers after his own experience with the condition. Just two years after suffering his seventh stroke, Herrmann decided to start the program at Eldora to help provide stroke survivors and their close families an outlet to enjoy outdoor, on the mountain activities in a group support setting. While Herrmann’s strokes are definitely alarming, they were not his first scare. As an avid ski racer, he had a gruesome crash at the age of 17 which at the time severely put his skiing career in jeopardy because of how much it impacted his ankle.
With strokes being so common in today’s world, the ability to enjoy physical and mental activities is key. This is what Snow Strokers is trying to achieve. Started in 2011, the group is run under the Ignite Adaptive Sports program at Eldora. Carol Nickel, the executive director of Ignite emphasized the improvement and overall moral gained from a lesson with Ignite/Snow Strokers. In the last nine years, about 20 stroke survivors have been taught to ski. This number is only projected to grow.
The great part about the partnership with Ignite is the wide variety of tools and techniques the adaptive program can provide. Some students use sliders (similar to the bar pushed around at ice skating rinks), others use rope and harness. There are even some skiers who have progressed enough to ski on their own, a true estimate to the process.
While the Snow Strokers program is still in an infancy stage, the progression both physically and mentally from all the skiers is something to glisten over.