Mother Of Jacob Smith Blind Skier
The Mother of Jacob Smith – A Blind Skier on the Skis
A brain tumor robbed Jacob Smith of his vision, but that hasn’t stopped him from making a name for himself on the slopes. Sharyn Alfonsi reports on the skiing superstar’s journey from losing his sight to dropping into one of Big Sky Resort’s most famous runs at just 12 years old.
At age eight, Jacob was diagnosed with a meningioma, a tumor that’s the size of a softball behind his eye socket. He had several surgeries and radiation treatments to help fight the cancerous mass. However, the tumor grew and spread to the optic nerve in his eye. It’s a terrifying prospect for any parent.
Luckily, he had the support of his parents. They took him to an emergency room when his eyes started to bleed. After surgery, the boy woke up with no vision.
It wasn’t long after that doctors discovered he had a meningioma the size of a grape in his brain. He had to undergo four major surgeries to remove the tumor and prevent it from spreading to his other eye.
He lost his sight when he was eight and it was a scary experience for the family. He and his parents were worried that the tumor would come back, but so far, it’s not.
Now, he’s still a competitive skier at Big Sky and competes in junior freeride tournaments. He says his family has been there for him since the beginning and they continue to support him every step of the way.
While he’s not a professional athlete, the 15-year-old is an inspiration to many in the skiing world. He teaches others that even though they may have lost their vision, they can compensate for it with their senses.
When it comes to the Big Couloir, he goes by a combination of what he can see, what he feels, what he knows about the route, and what his dad communicates over the radio. He’s also very careful about skiing and competing on low visibility days – when he might only see half the run.
He’s also a proponent of wearing avalanche safety gear. Besides wearing helmets, he’s also required to carry a shovel, backpack and transceiver.
On top of that, he needs to have a partner to make sure he stays safe on the mountain. Thankfully, his father, Nathan Smith, has been by his side throughout his career as a competitive skier.
It takes him a little time to get used to relying on his sensitivity and memory for ski runs, but he has become an expert at it. He’s learned to listen for danger, other skiers and the churning of the lift or ice conditions underfoot. He’s also learned to remember runs he went on before he lost his sight.
His brother Andrew and his sister Julia are also competitive skiers, so he often helps them out on the slopes too.
As a result, his family has the strongest bond in the family and they’re always there for each other.