Growing pains and glowing gains
“There were some dark days. Not being able to ski anymore broke my heart.”
Maddie Watts, 19, from Vancouver, B.C., was scared to try adaptive skiing.
Not for fear of hurting herself; she was terrified she would hate this version of it.
Growing up near Whistler, B.C., her best childhood memories were made on the slopes, surrounded by friends and family.
So, when she received her diagnosis of facet joint syndrome — a form of arthritis aggressively attacking her spine — at the age of 17, she immediately grieved the loss of her favourite activity.
Then, her dad recommended she give adaptive skiing a try.
A new love
“I was doing turns on the first day. It came so naturally! Soon enough, I was back in the high mountains. I was hooked!”
As Maddie embraced her newfound love for adaptive skiing, she quickly caught the attention of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. They extended her an invitation to train, learn and meet other athletes in the program.
“The hardest part was the unknown. Getting the right diagnosis took time and there were moments where I felt helpless. But I consulted Arthritis Society Canada’s website and found help in support groups.”
With a few years to prepare, improve and grow her love for adaptive skiing, she now embraces the dream of joining the 2026 Canadian Paralympic Team. The next time you read about Maddie Watts, there might be a picture of a smiling young woman with a gleaming medal around her neck.
“I consulted Arthritis Society Canada’s website and found help in support groups.”