Jason Sauer is an adaptive ski racer. As a double above-knee amputee, three factors have been instrumental in his rehabilitation success: sobriety, returning to sport and getting new legs.
Category archive: Humans of Hotham
Jason Sauer had his legs amputated in 2011. One day he was walking, skiing and snowboarding – the next his life was to be redefined as he faced the prospect of losing his limbs. Uncertainty and challenges followed, as well as many life lessons. His unapologetic story is one of courage and determination, retold here in two posts.
In less than a month, we will be back in the snow – atop Mt Hotham. The start of a new season brings excitement, hopes and challenges. We are looking forward to resuming our residence in this familiar place and to embracing what the 2017 Australian winter will bring.
For us, returning to an Australian ski resort like Mt Hotham is like returning to a favourite vacation place. You revisit your favourite spots and seek out the familiar faces of people who frequent them. There will be the returners, the new staff and the space left by absent friends.
There will be much laughter, hugging and hand-shaking. Meetings, inductions, pot-lucks and famils will help welcome newcomers into the mountain ways, social groups and community rituals. Catch-ups and chats will reveal the adventures and experiences had between seasons.
There will be new things to discover – new businesses, new watering holes and eateries. Where will you get the best coffee? Which venue has the best music? What’s changed with the ski runs? What are the new snow-making facilities? Are there other changes in the resort?
A new perspective on a familiar place
Having returned from working in Japan, in a different style resort, I wonder how this new perspective on Mt Hotham will be? I will be working in the resort full-time, returning to live “in the bubble” again. After being in the Niseko region where everything was new and different – job role, resort organisation, snowfall, language and culture. This one is our home resort. It presents a chance to reconnect with friends, to reengage with the people who make up the community that we enjoy belonging to and to bask in the beauty of this part of the country.
Engaging with familiar folk and places is like receiving a warm embrace. You have a place. You contribute. You are liked, perhaps needed. It’s not that this is not true of other places. There is something special about your home resort though. That and the temporal nature of ski seasons and their iterations that build connection. You recombine with other like-minds interested in living the snow life. You experience the highs and lows of the season together and then go your separate ways again.
People ask, “Is it enough?”
People ask me if this lifestyle offers enough to keep me interested and fulfilled. I enjoy the spirit that goes with communities like these. I enjoy living in cities but am probably a country girl at heart. Combine that with the loveliness of the snowy environment and it is a delightful backdrop for a period in which I can try new things and meet new people. Bring on the delights that lie ahead in 2017!
One of the lodge manager stalwarts at Mt Hotham is Liz Hanger. In her third season now, it is hard to believe her initial reaction to a suggestion of working in a ski resort was – “oh … I think I’m passed that!” Instead she has done just that, turning her new vocation into her vacation.
What are the decision-making processes that people go through to take up a flexible lifestyle? Is it a process of logical analysis and preparation? Well possibly – but like skiing, it is a dynamic sport. There are always changes in the terrain that you don’t expect.