Flashback to March 2020, when the world shut down just days before Thrive’s Alpine Ski Team was set to hit the slopes for the 2020 Championship Competition. After a year to think about what they had missed, Thrive skiers were eager to head to the mountain in 2021 to prove what they couldn’t in 2020 – that they are champions!
Every Monday from January through mid-March, twelve athletes and ten coaches headed to Ski Ward to strap on their skis. Adhering to COVID safety protocols – wearing masks, suiting up in your car, and riding chairlifts only with family members – proved to be a significant adjustment but not a deterrent. With a focus on creating a positive experience rather than singularly concentrating on fine-tuning skills, Thrive coaches and Ski Ward Race Team partners headed out every week with dedication. “This was a huge commitment for family members, athletes, and coaches, but everyone’s enthusiasm was contagious,” shared Head Coach Deb Roberts.
Months of hard work culminated on a winter day in March at Berkshire East in Charlemont, MA, at the Special Olympics MA Alpine Ski Championships. Because this was a new venue for the athletes it was a bit challenging to navigate, but Thrive skiers faced these difficulties head-on. With few onlookers due to COVID restrictions, the group hit the slopes not to set records or win medals but to
prove that they have what it takes to be champions – grit, and determination. And that they did. Every team member finished the day with a sense of accomplishment and pride for making it through a demanding season. These twelve athletes and their coaches are a true testament to what it means to be Thrive Strong!
Looking ahead to next year, the team has a renewed focus on fine-tuning race skills and having fun. “We’d love to expand our partnership with the Ski Ward Race Team after benefiting so much from their knowledge and kindness of racers Elizabeth and Lia and their coach Chris. Our athletes loved training and skiing with them. We are so appreciative that they volunteered their time,” shared Roberts. “With the season now in the record books, what stands out most to me is the pure elation everyone felt on that first day of practice and throughout the season. Like many, the previous months had taken a toll, and we were so happy to see each other and be together! That is what being a team is all about!” she added.
Side Note: After more than a decade, as Head Coach of Thrive’s Alpine Ski Team Dave Domke stepped aside this year. We would like to thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the athletes and the organization.