Saylor O'Brien: Driven - National Ability Center

Saylor O’Brien: Driven

Action Camp opened up a world Saylor knew was there but had not really seen as of yet; it introduced her to people that could help her achieve her dreams and continue that spirit of being able to do anything.

learning to bi skiThe National Ability Center’s 2015-16 season is just beginning at Park City, and one young skier is getting an early start on her 2022 Paralympic dreams.

Born with spina bifida, Saylor O’Brien learned to ski here in Utah just last year as a four-tracker, meaning that instead of ski poles, she held adaptive outriggers to help balance and steer her turns.

Saylor’s mother, Audrey says she quickly found a passion for the sport, “Saylor loves to go fast, really fast, so racing makes sense to her.”

Saylor loves to go fast, really fast, so racing makes sense to her.

As Saylor’s skills grew, her family connected with the National Ability Center in hopes that it would be a place that could nurture Saylor’s competitive side while helping her discover the next steps in pursuing her dream. Saylor signed up for Summer Action Camp where she trained with young adaptive athletes like herself while learning what it takes to make the jump from recreational skiing to elite-level competition. It quickly became clear that her drive and competitive spirit made the National Ability Center a perfect fit.

saylor obrien adaptive ski racer“[Action Camp] opened up a world Saylor knew was there but had not really seen as of yet; it introduced her to people that could help her achieve her dreams and continue that spirit of being able to do anything,” Saylor’s mother, Aubrey O’Brien shares, “It has been a huge support to her and confidence builder.”

There are athletes who have the drive and the will to get better, but sometimes their skill sets are not there yet. Saylor is fun to teach with her mono-ski lessons because she has both. Not only is she driven to progress and get better each time, she also has the natural talent to do so.

 

But, during her time at the National Ability Center, coaches suggested she begin skiing in a seated mono-ski, which would improve her chances to fulfill her Paralympic dreams, but would mean Saylor would need to go back to the fundamentals and re-learn to ski. The choice, for Saylor, was a simple one.

Saylor committed to mastering this new way of skiing, signing up for not only the National Ability Center’s Alpine team training and winter ski sessions but also winter action camp. Although Saylor is too young to compete this season in International Paralympic Committee (IPC) sanctioned events, when she turns 14, she will be ready to excel from the start.

Saylor’s instructor Alma is already impressed with her progress on a monoski. He reflects, “There are athletes who have the drive and the will to get better, but sometimes their skill sets are not there yet. Saylor is fun to teach with her mono-ski lessons because she has both. Not only is she driven to progress and get better each time, she also has the natural talent to do so.”

Here at the National Ability Center, Saylor’s story reminds us of the power of following a dream with persistence. Like our founder Meeche White, who had a vision for this organization and our mission 30 years ago, Saylor seems to have an uncanny ability to look into the future, see possibilities and find the support it takes to pursue those dreams. We like to think that this ability makes someone unstoppable, and we can’t wait to see all that Saylor achieves this season and in the years to come!

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