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Let's Get Out There: Adaptive ski lessons at Mt. Hood Meadows

Adaptive ski and snowboard lessons offered at the Mt. Hood Meadows Learning Center cater to skiers and boarders from beginner to advanced.

MT HOOD, Ore. — This week's Let's Get Out There takes us to Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort. Lee Armstrong is a life-long skier whose inspirational story may inspire you to try skiing or snowboarding, no matter your ability.

The 73-year-old Armstrong has been skiing since 1958. Earlier this week was his first time hitting the slopes at Mt. Hood Meadows.

“It feels just wonderful. I've only been skiing one other time this year and it's my passion. I'm at my best when I'm on my skis,” he said.

He might not be the skier he was when he started in Alta, Utah, but the snow he glided over would tell you he’s still got it.

“I’ve still got a little bit of racer in me,” Armstrong said, smiling.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

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Armstrong is a former ski instructor, even teaching adaptive lessons in Montana. This day however, he is the one receiving the lesson.

“He was here at nine o'clock on the dot all dressed up ready to go. I love to see that,” said John Bailey, adaptive lead at the Mt. Hood Meadows Learning Center.

“If they had a great experience, that's a really good reward to me,” added adaptive instructor and guide Lynn Hickcox. Hickcox escorted Armstrong down several runs during an adaptive lesson because Lee has vision loss.

“I was born with a lazy eye,” he said. “I was in a car accident and a fence rail came through and hit me in the face and I lost my eye. They did dozens of surgeries trying to save it but basically just had to take it out.”

Armstrong can still see shapes and colors, enough to follow an instructor skiing in front of him.

“He likes building a rhythm and we just stick with it and I just make sure to stay where he can see me,” said Hickcox. “Not over the horizon, I'll slow down, I'll call out obstacles like rocks — neither of us like rocks.”

RELATED: Let's Get Out There: Snowshoeing with Mt. Hood Outfitters

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

Adaptive lessons like these at Mt. Hood Meadows cater to skiers and boarders who may use wheelchairs, have hearing loss, or cognitive difficulties. For Armstrong, he can ski a route off memory, but if he said there’s no way he could ride new terrain without a guide.

“You can hear it in his voice, he's so happy,” said Armstrong’s daughter Sarah Albertson. “You can see the smile on his face. He's just still as beautiful a skier as he always was … I think he skis better than he walks.”

It’s getting a bit late in the season, but if you’re interested in adaptive lessons at Meadows, there’s more info on their web site. Maybe file it away for next year because, as Armstrong demonstrated, it’s never too late.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

“Oh, skiing is my passion,” he said. “So to be able to have somebody to follow so I have some confidence just means the world. Everybody needs to get on skis.”

“Anytime I get out on the snow it’s a great day.”'

For more info on adaptive lessons at the Meadows Learning Center, visit:

www.skihood.com/en/lessons-and-rentals/adaptive-lessons

Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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