Wounded warriors ski in 'Vertical Challenge'

MERCERSBURG, Pa. (WUSA9) -- More than 70 skiers and snowboarders are attempting to ski 100,000 vertical feet in a single day at this southern Pennsylvania resort to support disabled athletes who want to learn snow sports.

The challenge is the equivalent of skiing Mt. Everest more than three times and will take many of the athletes more than 12 hours to complete. Many of the participants are disabled athletes who are competing with the assistance of artificial limbs or other adaptive equipment.

"Gravity doesn't care how you approach it," said Bill Dietrich, the executive director of the Two-Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation. "Whether you're standing up or sitting down, it does not matter. They all have a blast."

Athletes will have to complete at least 107 trips up and down the mountain here to achieve all 100,000 vertical feet.

The Two-Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation provides equipment and volunteers to teach anyone from wounded warriors to autistic children how to enjoy snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding at the Whitetail Mountain Resort. The foundation has provided more than 450 lessons free-of-charge so far this winter season.

"I know for me it has helped me get my life back together," said Army veteran Karl Dorman, who skis at high speed on his artificial leg.

Dorman and Dietrich call adaptive skiing an "equalizer" that allows many disabled athletes to compete at the same level as their able-bodied friends.

The 2014 Vertical Challenge has raised nearly $60 thousand so far.


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