New England Blind & Visually Impaired Festival to be held at Sugarloaf

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CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Twenty-five blind and visually-impaired skiers will join more than 80 volunteers Feb. 9 to 13 at the third annual New England Blind & Visually Impaired Festival at Sugarloaf Ski Resort.

It is hosted by Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation of Newry, the state’s largest adaptive recreation program for children and adults with physical disabilities.

Participants will enjoy Alpine skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, snow tubing and social activities at the resort, Deb Maxfield, Maine Adaptive Marketing and Development director, said Friday in a news release.

Program highlights will include ski clinics and guests speakers — legendary blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer and Vision Quest 2020’s Randy Pierce.

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The program seeks to involve family members, caregivers and friends offering clinics and trainings on how to become effective ski guides, Maxfield said.

“We are excited to welcome Erik Weihenmayer to our festival this year and to welcome back Randy Pierce from Vision Quest 2020 as our guest speakers,” Toby Burdet, program coordinator for Maine Adaptive’s Weekly Alpine Program at Sugarloaf, said.

“We are pleased that our attendees will have the opportunity to ski with Erik and benefit from his techniques and life experiences, including the recognition of being the first blind person to summit Mount Everest.”

Participants from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida will arrive in Carrabassett Valley beginning Sunday evening, and will stay through Thursday afternoon, Maxfield said.

“Our goal is to provide skiers with the opportunity to develop their skiing abilities on all levels of terrain with their own guides or qualified festival volunteers,” Bruce Albiston, chairman of the New England Blind/Visually Impaired Festival and Maine Adaptive board member, said.

He said they will also provide guide training from instructors certified in adaptive techniques by the Professional Ski Instructors of America.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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