It’s been a while……

Firstly let me apologise for the lack of material going on in this blog. I have to admit after I returned from the hospital after my injury and operation I wasn’t really in a great place; I felt awful, literally coming home and getting wrapped up in front of the fire with a blanket on the couch….which is really not me!!

Obviously once I was back in the land of the living it was the run up to Christmas and as we all know that is a mad and manic time of the year. It was exactly that in this household as well having had a houseful on the 22nd, Christmas Day and Boxing Day…oh and of course Laura was up at the crack of dawn Boxing Day to abuse the credit card in the sales.

New Year was not eventful in the Dunning household, seeing midnight is a rare occasion what with a little one in the house who’s concept of a lie in is 7am!

As the calendar was turned over to January I was finishing up with my physio but that was not the end of my treatment as I attended a shoulder class. In essence the session was circuit training, 3 minutes per station, 12 stations…don’t get me wrong it was no Headley Court thrashing but useful all the same for working the shoulder hard. I then got put into a shoulder class which was like circuit training.

So now my shoulder is a lot better I am planning on returning to the snow, heading to Meribel to be reunited with CSDST for the Inter Services Ski and Snowboard championships. Obviously I’m not going to throw myself straight into the downhill, but I’m going to enjoy some time free skiing and taking on races that I feel comfortable with.

My plan is to return to the UK after the Inter Services. Home for admin, appointments and the real world of a teething toddler and then I’ll update you all with my next move,

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So close…..yet so far away!

I wish I was in a position to report back with race results from the recent IPCAS slalom races that where held in Landgraaf, Holland the back end of last week…..however after a very pleasing weeks training on Stubai I managed to crash in slalom training on my first day in Snow World.

My last post was left on Remembrance Sunday; and the week that followed was a progressive, pleasing week of GS training on Stubai. Confidence was on the up and after a training block that left me excited for the up and coming races in Holland I was looking forward to getting into slalom training with BDST/CSDST at Snow World.

However as Lady Luck would have it I wasn’t going to be making the races. An awkward tumble in a slalom training course saw me break my collar bone, take a trip to the local med centre and then spark an international rescue from my wife and daughter to repatriate me, and the car full of kit to the UK.

I was literally dropped at the door of A+E at our local hospital as after hours on planes, trains and automobiles Ava was in need of letting off some energy and a hospital certainly didn’t fit that bill. So Laura was a little taken a back when she received a call late into the afternoon to pack an overnight bag for me as I was on the morning surgery list!! It was once again the responsibility of Mr Alfred Morris to put me back together, this time plating the collar bone, the joke is now I’m stuck together with so much metal that I could audition as the Tin Man.

So now the rehab starts and just a week after surgery I’ve had my first Physio session this morning. I’m also due to see Mr Morris next week for a realistic time scale as to when I’ll be back on snow. I’ll keep you posted on that front.

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Back to work (after a well earned rest…)

Following the BDST training camp in Hintertux I was home for a week to catch up with friends and family. Typically a busy period with hospital appointments (for me), Laura, Ava and I were selling poppy’s for our local Royal British Legion branch and we held a little celebration for Ava’s first birthday.

The whole Dunning family headed to Austria (via Munich airport) and stayed in Neustift as normal. Arriving late Sunday afternoon it was back to training Monday, with some free skiing and showing Laura and Ava “my office”. Tuesday was back into GS gates, and the training has gone really well all week and I’m feeling very positive about getting back into GS racing and seeing where I measure up against the rest of the mono ski world!

Laura and Ava had travelled out to Neustift so that I could join in Ava’s first birthday celebrations. She turned one on Wednesday 7th November and we had a cake delivered to the apartment, had presents with us for Ava to open and had a lovely meal up at the house with the rest of the CSDST/BDST members.

The family have returned home now and today we have held a remembrance service up on the glacier. Due to a storm that had come in our plans were changed slightly; but it was nice to take time out and remember the fallen. Dale you’re never forgotten!

To round off the news, tune in to Sky Sports (channel 405) tomorrow (Monday 12th) at 7.30pm for a special programme on the British Disabled Ski Team. I won’t have the pleasure of sitting down to watch the show tomorrow night, so please report back!

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From powder to ice….

As my last blog was posted the snow was falling heavily in Hintertux, which could only have been an improvement on my last visit to the glacier when we were essentially water skiing down the mountain in the summer heat of August. The dumping snow brought about a powder day for the opening day of the British Disabled Ski Team camp; not terrible conditions to be “finding your ski feet” again!

The remainder of the week was in reality free skiing on GS skis but with guidance from the coaches, giving suggestions on things to work on before gate training commenced the following week.

So the second week of camp brought about gate training; slalom to be precise. Considering this is not my favoured discipline I felt I had a good week overall. Areas to improve on where identified and I’m hoping these can be remedied in further training before the racing calendar kicks off at the end of November. I realised that as the conditions started to get colder, the piste started to ice over and the wind picked up that my confidence in my skiing did take a knock; I can only hope in time this improves as I appreciate not all race pistes are going to have that soft powder landing should I crash.

The camp not only worked me hard on the hill, but off snow as well with a very well structured dry land training programme. It was an enjoyable camp, not only where conditions generally favourable (as I was leaving for home the temperatures were dropping), I was also skiing on my new seat and tinkering with it to get the most out of it, but it was also my first time working with Tony, the new coach.

I’m currently home with the family for some down time; with it being the run up to Remembrance Sunday we’ve all been doing our bit for the Poppy Appeal. In my absence Laura and Ava launched are local Appeal last week on the Mersey Ferry and we’re out and about selling Poppy’s this week.

I will also be heading to London for the Ski Show, so if you’re around and about head over to the DSUK stand. I’ll be there Thursday, but the charity staff and BDST athletes will be around all over the weekend. There is also a team send off at Aura, Mayfair on Friday 2nd November. For more information check out: http://www.justgiving.com/britishsendoff

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Early season report!

As the calendar was flicked over to October in the Dunning household it meant only one thing, the impending arrival of the early ski season, the last of the corporate events on UK soil before the likes of suspension testing in Holland and early season glacier skiing out in Stubai. It’s hard to believe really that I only left the house on 3rd October considering the timetable of events.

First stop was the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team launch, held annually down in Hemel Hempstead’s snow centre. Essentially a day for the sponsors, supporters and media to come along and see the team ski and to see the official hand over of the new team bus courtesy of Ford.

It was then off to a Quiz Night hosted by David Claridge of Selex, one of the great companies to support CSDST. A great evening that not only saw more funds being raised for CSDST, but showed the continued support of Selex and their staff to the team and what we aim to achieve in the coming years. I’m not really sure that we, the team were meant to win the quiz considering the evening was in aid of us, but hey ho, these things happen!

To round off the UK based events I travelled back up north, just not quite as far as home to the Tamworth Race For All event at the Tamworth Snowdome. It was a great publicity event that raised the profile of DSUK and BDST enabling any disabled skier to race against BDST team members. Sadly I hadn’t been able to get on snow all week for any of the events as my rig was with Supacat, another CSDST sponsor in preparation for suspension testing the following week.

The early season CSDST contingent headed to the continent only to find our great escape to snow somewhat delayed courtesy of a Eurotunnel backlog! However once at Landgraaf we settled into long days of suspension testing, with the help of Supacat experts and electronic data capture on the hill we sought to get the most out of the mono-skis. Shocks have been tweaked and adjusted and we have been given the knowledge to continue to do so throughout the season to ensure that we are getting the maximum out of our kit in race and training situations.

To round off the early season package, the bus was packed up and the CSDST boys and girls headed to Neustift to set up base for a couple of additional days skiing up on the Stubai glacier. We had been warned of poor conditions but upon arriving up on the hill we were pleasantly surprised. The team just undertook some basic skills and drills to get our confidence back on snow, especially for myself now skiing on a new seat and returning to the snow from a season off following injury. I didn’t do much for my confidence (or my wife’s) when I decided to eject myself from the ski and do a bit of tumbling down the piste.

Via a series of texts my wife told me to “man up” and so I returned to the snow the following day complete with war wounds and I actually left the snow feeling really pleased with my progress and looking forward to the Brit Team Camp.

I’ve made the transition today from one very snowy valley to another, heading from Stubai to Hintertux for the start of Brit Team training tomorrow. It’s been dumping down here today so the plan of action is to just do a bit of free skiing, so the big boy skis will be making an appearance – it’s a powder day!

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The final countdown…..

As the nights draw in and a you notice the nip in the air, it can only mean one thing. The start of the ski season is fast approaching, and by god is it thundering towards me at an astonishing pace.

In some respects it feels like the season has been continuous since I got the go ahead to ski again in May. My last training session saw me head to Holland straight from Denver after receiving my new seat from Aspen Seating. With my transatlantic journey I did miss the first day of training, but the four days that I did complete filled me with confidence and even left me surprised by actually enjoying slalom training.

I spent the first morning of training getting familiar with the new seat, making sure I was comfortable with the seat and how it worked. The afternoon involved some training in gates, firstly stubbies before moving on to full gates, training not only with CSDST but with some Belgian and Swedish skiers. The remaining 3 days involved a mixture of stubbies and full gate training and when I left Snow World on the Friday morning I was honestly filled with confidence and looking forward to my next on snow session.

After a whirlwind 48 hours at home after training which consisted of the washing machine/tumble dryer being on every minute of the day Laura, Ava and I headed off to little more than a sand dune in the Atlantic. We visited Porto Santo for the week, an 11km by 6km island that is yet to be infiltrated by the low cost airlines and enjoyed a week of being out of communication, some valuable family time and just some rest in the sunshine before what is to be a very busy winter for all of us.

However returning to the UK brought us back to reality with a bang, having had perfect weather for a week in Porto Santo we arrived to what appeared to be a monsoon and the realisation that the ski season starts just next week. The diary was also fit to bursting with meetings/things to do before departure day.

I kicked things off with a visit to Tamworth Snow Centre to meet with Tony McAllister the new BDST coach. I’ve worked with Tony before but not at a coaching level, and I’m really looking forward to the forthcoming season and what he has to offer the team after a very productive meeting. However as always plans appear to have already changed for my forthcoming race programme before the race calendar even starts!

Following on from receiving my new Aspen seat and training on it I met with Andy Evans of Uren Food Group (main sponsors) yesterday to update him on my progress and my plans for the forthcoming season.

I have tonight collected a very sizeable and very generous cheque from the North Wirral Slimming World Groups. The money was raised as part of their 12 week Beat It Campaign. and other events arranged by individuals and groups. I can’t thank the Slimming World Group Leaders and their members enough for their continued support and I promise that the money will be put to good use in what is to be a very costly season.

I depart for the snow next week, starting with the CSDST Launch down in Hemel, a CSDST fundraiser with Selex Galileo and a Race for All event with BDST at Tamworth before heading to mainland Europe for suspension testing. Beyond that it’s off to the glaciers of Stubai and Hintertux to get the season proper underway!

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My new ride!

I electronically pen this email from the lobby of the Holiday Inn, Denver where I have been staying whilst my new ride, the seat from Aspen was brought to life.  The next part of this transatlantic journey will take me to Holland for training on the new seat at Snow World.

Aspen Seating have done a great job with the seat; the process started with a mould of the seat, which was then cut down and a back support fitted to it. Some blue foam was then inserted into the seat (similar to the sort of thing florists use – just bigger) and I had to hop into the mould and jump up and down in it, in a nutshell squashing it down to form a cast of my rear.

The process of actually making the seat was fairly involved what with polystyrene balls and adhesives being used!  Then side panels and straps needed to be added and of course I had to check the new seat was actually comfortable, ensuring that there were no areas of discomfort. The leg protectors also needed to be worked on, so a cast was made of my legs which was left to set over night. 

Once the cast was solid, hot plastic is placed over it to create the shape. To make sure it fitted odds and ends were taken off the fairing to ensure it fitted nicely to my legs. Buckles from ski boots were then used to strap the fairing to the seat, foam padding was also added to the underside of the protector to give a tighter fit.

In a nutshell that was the seat done and dusted, all that remained for me to do was static testing – which is exactly what you would imagine. Sitting still in the seat for 2 hours to make sure that the seat was comfortable and that no areas where digging into my body. I can safely say that having sat there for over 2 hours that the seat fitted like a glove!

So my thanks this post have to go to all at Aspen Seating; from their help with initial enquires into the seat and for fitting me in at relatively short notice. Of course a very big thanks needs to go to the man who actually made the seat for me, Joe Bieganek. I am truly brimming with excitement to get back on the snow and try this seat out for size. The snow shovel is no more!! 

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