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May 2024

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Photo by Susan Tryon Kenny LaCome gave much more than a few “able bodied” skiers a run for their money is a testament to his training ethic.

Questa’s Kenny LaCome offersmessages of hope to the community

Visit Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area on any afternoon and you’ll likely encounter an elite athlete unloading his gear, good naturedly visiting with curious onlookers, then switching from his padded wheelchair to a “sit ski,” a racing apparatus atop two narrow Fischer racing skis.

The ski is the latest iteration of a series of skis designed by its user, Questeño Kenny LaCome. On this warm March day, LaCome gamely rolls up a makeshift ramp to visit after another day of hard training. The bulletin boards at Enchanted Forest a test to his talent, highlighting newspaper articles and photos of his Nordic racing.

Some years his racing season is packed. This year his only race was in February at the 50th Annual Boulder Mountain Tour in Ketchum, Idaho, during which he competed along with 977 racers — 750 in the 34-kilometer full marathon and 227 in his event, the 15-kilometer half-marathon. Out of a field of 25 adaptive skiers “from people missing arms to amputees, and sit skiers, I came in second place,” La Come says.

That LaCome was bested by a 21-year-old from Bozeman makes the achievement even more impressive. He also placed 8th overall in the half among all male racers ages 60 to 69, even non-adaptive skiers. “I’ve actually taken a silver medal in that division in the past.”

LaCome is competitive, no doubt, but asked what he likes about cross country ski racing, he notes, “The camaraderie, the people… The Boulder Mountain course is phenomenal… It’s just a great course all around.”

LaCome, 63, was born in Oklahoma (his father was in the Air Force) and grew up in Taos. He started motocross racing at age 13 and excelled at that before bad knees convinced him to pursue motorcycle road racing. “Initially, I thought it was more mental than physical,” he says. “I soon found out it was more physical!”

On the heels of a self-confessed spiritual crisis in which he asked God to reach him no matter “how disastrous it is” he had an accident that completely changed his life. That he has always contended it changed his life for the better is a testament to LaCome’s strength… and faith.

“Today my understanding of God has changed into an awareness of consciousness, the infinite, knowing that it is always present,” LaCome says. “After the crash, that is what I chose on some level. I was very fortunate not to live from a place of victimhood.”

He left rehab ready to live in that choice, pursuing competitive wheelchair tennis before living and working in Denver led him to Winter Park, Colorado, home of one of the largest adaptive ski programs in the United States. During his first days downhill skiing, LaCome says, “Everybody told me I was a natural.”

He downhill ski raced competitively for 23 seasons, and trained for the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, until a bad crash left him badly shaken and unable to compete at that level. LaCome later qualified to go to the Paralympics in Salt Lake City. In March 2002, LaCome, then age 42, finished 10th in the Men’s Super-G, among the top sit-ski racers in the world.

While at the 2002 Paralympics, LaCome says, “I was inspired by a female gold medallist to try cross country skiing. I figured it is never too late to check out Nordic skiing and, five years after that, I decided to see what cross-country skiing was all about. “Then in 2009, “I started competing.”

His peak year came in 2020 when LaCome won three bronze medals in three different cross-country skiing events at the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Nationals.

“I like the Nordic so much. I love the conditioning part of it the most. It gives me the strength to build a thriving life, having the strength to do all the transfers to get in and out of vehicles, on and off the floor, and other things. A higher quality of life for sure.”

Also, a one-time competitive marathon racer, LaCome trains year-round. He uses “a dryland trainer that replicates cross country skiing in the summertime. It has wheels on it but I propel it using my poles. I basically designed it and this gentleman in Albuquerque built it.”

This contraption is one of many LaCome has designed and built through the years. LaCome used his mechanical expertise to build his first sit ski in Denver and earned second overall at the 1987 National Championships in New Hampshire on his invention.

Now living up Cabresto Road outside Questa, LaCome invents, trains and actively gardens growing “a variety of sprouts — alfalfa, cabbage, radish, clover, broccoli, peas, sunflower, mung beans, aduki beans, garbanzos, different types of wheat…”

He believes in health — in body and spirituality — and shares his knowledge at Yoga Sala where he offers microgreens presentations. “Only recently I was exposed to the word ‘microgreens,” LaCome says with a laugh. “I’ve eaten this way for over three decades. All I ever knew them by is sprouts.”

“I’m into personal development that focuses on the whole complete being, from the mind to the body to spirituality.”

His spiritual practice includes daily meditation and gratitude. LaCome’s gratitude extends to acknowledging all the support he receives. He would like to thank Enchanted Forest Cross Country “for the training facility and support, and I’d also like to give recognition to The Challenged Athletes Foundation for their support.”

Now he says, “I’m wanting to share the story with others that living from a place of victimhood basically puts you in survival mode. We have a choice to enhance our quality of life. I’ve been investing in personal development now for close to a decade.

“I realize now that I want to be of service to humanity through life coaching. I’m already doing one on one sessions. I want to get into doing groups. That’s really where my life is today. It’s really the passion that’s pushing me forward today. Realizing the value of that and realizing the value in others…. And getting people to realize the value in themselves.

It’s about realizing that we have the power within us. If you grow up poor, for instance, then you grow up believing, ‘Well I can’t receive abundance’ but you have a choice. The only thing that’s keeping me from that is if I decide to disempower myself. When you get into that victim mindset, then that’s where it keeps you.

“What it’s about is realizing the universe is benevolent. That makes a world of difference.”
Interested in Kenny’s life coaching? Contact Kenny LaCome at lacomeken@q.com or (575) 770-9171.