On the Slopes with Ash Winter

By Ash Winter

I was diagnosed with Keratoconus in 2010. It’s a horrible eye disease and I do see it as a disability but I try not to let it stop me living my life to the full.

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I also feel like my life has changed since then, maybe it’s my Army background but something told me to  and make the most of a bad situation. I was offered the chance to ski in March 2015, I had never skied before so skiing with visual distortion was a bit of a scary thought.

I can ski!

I attended the ski trip with an organisation called BattleBack, they help people who are in the Army who are wounded, injured or sick. I had 1 on 1 tuition for 10 days. The feeling was unbelievable, I could ski. Although it took a lot of concentration, not being able to see what most people can was obviously a hindrance! I am a very emotional person and put my all into this trip, and it came as a shock to me to win the Mitchell Cup, an award for the person who benefited most for the experience.

During the summer of 2015 I was offered the chance to attend a newcomers day for the Armed Forces Para Snowsport team, I got on well and enjoyed it, for the 6 months to now (Jan 16) I have attended training days, race camps, training camps and am well on my way on the performance pathway set out for me.

I ski with a guide and train very hard; I set myself goals and achieve most. I have attended a low key access for all race with Para Snowsport GB and came 3rd.

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As we speak I am in Austria ready for race training and preparation before forerunning in the Army Championships and then going on to compete later on in the season.

Sporting achievements

I also do a lot more sports in the summer, a 24 hour mountain bike endurance race, half marathons, triathlons etc, I am supported by Fitbit, Mygym-buddy.com, Ringtons Tea and am a LifeVenture ambassador.

Vision problems do not stop me

The problems I endure whilst skiing are vast!

Everything is blurred so it is vital I have a guide so I am able to negotiate the course, Flat light means I can’t see definition, I can’t make out the terrain, I get dizzy, I feel sick, at speed I have no peripheral vision, I get floaters, my contacts shrink at altitude, my drops don’t work, I get the kaleidoscope effect meaning no vision at all.

Imagine skiing at about 40mph through a race course with goggles full of water, I have to have 100% confidence and trust in my guide. Thankfully we have a communication system and he wears a high visibility vest.

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I am very much looking forward to the future; I have a lot coming up so please follow me on @Ash_Adventure or Instagram @Ash.Adventure

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