Daniel Miller (center) with his Disabled Sports USA ski instructors.
It’s a spring day in Tahoe and Daniel Miller—a double, below the knee amputee—is tackling the learner’s slopes at Alpine Meadows without fear or doubt in a sit-ski. This is easy compared to what else Miller has done.
He is in the U.S. Army, and in February 2009 his tank hit a roadside bomb. The improvised explosive device blew up underneath his vehicle, taking out both of his legs beneath the knee.
“Three or four months later, I was up on prosthetics,” Miller says from his sit-ski at the end of his lesson. “The whole time I was asking our recreational therapist, when are the ski trips?”
Miller and 24 others from rehab centers in San Diego, California, and San Antonio, Texas, got a ski trip to Tahoe this spring thanks to the Disabled Sports USA Far West and the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to honoring and empowering wounded veterans. Disabled Sports celebrated the Wounded Warriors by inviting them to compete with sponsors in an Ability Challenge at Alpine Meadows that included a racecourse and a mountain-wide scavenger hunt. I came to Alpine to find out how a day on skis helps a soldier adjusts to life after a combat injury changes their body and physical ability forever.