Meet Otis Loga, Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center Staff

This past season at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center, Otis Loga greeted every guest with a smile and unexpected jokes, bringing true joy to one of the country’s best cross-country skiing destinations. He’s an athlete too, with a passion for skiing, running, and biking. Otis also has mild cerebral palsy, affecting his balance and making stand-up skiing very difficult.

Four years ago, Otis was Nordic skiing competitively at his high school in Vermont. Stand-up skiing was very challenging for Otis. It was during a cross-country running meet that he was introduced to an adaptive form of skiing: sit-skiing. Connected to the sport by the US Para-Nordic Team, Otis was later awarded a grant to buy his own sit-ski.

Sit-skis are a piece of equipment with a seat mounted on top of two fixed skis, allowing individuals with mobility difficulties, spinal cord injuries, amputations, and people of all abilities to participate in the sport.

With his passion for sports and the outdoors, he embarked on a gap-year after high school graduation, bringing him to the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center. There, he connected with a coach and has been training, competing, and bringing energy to all who get to know him.

His races included competitions in Calgary, Utah, and at Snow Mountain Ranch, with the ultimate goal of competing in the Paralympics someday. Otis even had the opportunity to train with the British Paralympics team while they were visiting Snow Mountain Ranch this winter.

Otis has also been able to share his love for sit-skiing with our guests, making it possible for those who never thought it was possible. A guest this winter noticed Otis in his sit-ski and asked, “What’s that?” – a question he’s definitely familiar with.

The guest shared with Otis that her daughter, who’s in a wheelchair, stayed back in the cabin while the rest of the family went Nordic skiing. The news about the sit-ski was exciting, prompting the mom to ask if she could bring her daughter down to meet him. Otis not only created an opportunity for her daughter but also for their entire family, fostering inclusivity and bringing the family together. By the end of the day, the daughter decided she wanted to get her own sit-ski.

So, what’s next for Otis? As he gets ready to leave Snow Mountain Ranch, he plans to bike home — TO VERMONT. That’s right, he’s biking from Colorado to Vermont, with his dad driving his, “Swag Wagon.” Otis shares, “I hope the drivers are nice to me, but if not, whatevs.” He plans to take a few college classes in Vermont this summer and see where his next chapter takes him.

Otis shares that Snow Mountain Ranch has been good to him, and he would love to come back next ski season.

YMCA of the Rockies’ mission to build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all is evident in staff like Otis. By sharing his knowledge of sit-skiing, he is making the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center more inclusive and offering opportunities to people of all abilities.

A Catch-Up with Otis During his Cross-country Bike Trip

Q&A with Otis

  • Tell me about yourself.
    • I’m 19 years old, graduated high school last year. I’m taking a gap year, I’m very athletic. I don’t know how to do this “relaxing weekend business”, I always have to do doing something. I thought – I have to get home to Vermont somehow and I’ve got time – why don’t I bike home?
  • Speaking of, how is your cross-country bike ride?
    • Bike trip is good, a lot of camping, memories, seeing a lot of cool stuff. Lots of good drivers, lots of bad drivers. Still alive, haven’t gotten hit. Should arrive in Vermont next week.
  • How did it feel when you discovered sit skiing?
    • I felt like I could actually do Nordic skiing. I feel free, I like speed. Sliding on snow in sitting position is good.
  • What was your experience working at the SMR Nordic Center?
    • I really liked just being in a ski environment, going skiing, talking about skiing, being where there’s snow and good grooming (thanks to Shawn), waxing skis. I got to grow my knowledge of the sport and now I feel more comfortable.
  • What are your Nordic ski goals?
    • In a perfect world, be on the Paralympic national team. I need to keep training though.
  • What’s some advice you have for other aspiring adventure athletes like yourself?
    • Advocate, ask for what you need. Never give up if you want to do a sport. Ask questions, do research, see if there an adaptation to do that sport. Sports are very powerful, they gave me a team and something to do.
  • Will we see you back at the ranch next winter?
    • Yes, I would like to come back next winter, if they’ll have me.

I think they’ll have you, Otis!