copyright the Chronicle January 11, 2017
by Elizabeth Trail
CRAFTSBURY — It was a cold gray Saturday here, but the slopes and trails at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center were bright with skiers and snowshoers in red vests, some marked “Guide” and some marked “Blind Skier.”
The 22 visually impaired skiers who came to the weekend’s Ski for Light event are fit and physically active. Many are professionals, most are middle-aged or older, all enjoy a chance to spend a weekend outdoors improving their skiing or snowshoeing skills.
The same could be said of the volunteer guides — sighted skiers who pay their own way to Ski for Light events year after year.
But for the blind skiers, there’s the added challenge of pointing skis down a hill they can’t see, and trusting a guide they may have met just the day before.
“You just relax and bend your knees and go,” said Marie Hennessy, president of New England Ski for Light. “You have to put your full trust with this person.”
In his early days as a guide, Stephen Flanders of Norwich steered a skier into a bush by calling out the wrong directions.
“It’s important to know left from right,” he said drily.
But despite that inauspicious start, Mr. Flanders has stuck it out as a guide for more than ten years.
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