by Mary Verlinde
Eight individuals who are members of the North Dakota Association of the Blind (NDAB) from around the state of North Dakota attended the 42nd Annual Black Hills Regional Ski for Light, which is held each year in Deadwood, South Dakota. This year it took place from January 23 – 28. Many others who are visually impaired or have other limitations from across the country and internationally also took part in this annual event.
In 1978, Ski for Light International held its annual event at Deer Mountain in the Black Hills. Several local individuals were involved with this event. Afterwards, they decided to organize their own yearly regional program. Thus, the Black Hills Regional Ski for Light was born in January 1979 when the first event was held at Deer Mountain. Thirty-one skiers and thirty-one guides attended this cross-country skiing program. Because they had such a positive experience, this small group of enthusiastic guides and skiers began planning to gather again the following year. Cross-country skiing remains, to this day, a major part of the Black Hills SFL winter program.
The next year, 1980, down-hill skiing was introduced into the event. Like Nordic skiing, down-hill skiing started out small with four participants. From that small start the down-hill skiing component has grown to equal the cross-country segment.
SFL has grown from 62 attendees at the first event to its current size of over 250 participating. People from throughout the United States, from other countries, and from all walks of life come to enjoy the unique camaraderie of SFL.
This year, two North Dakota participants, Mike Hoeppner from Grand Forks and Jason Heim from Dickinson were winners in the Giant Slalom Race, with Mike taking first place and Jason taking second place. Congratulations to both!
For more information about Ski for Light, please visit https://bhsfl.org/