The mountains might appear to be a hostile environment but people with disabilities can get involved in snowsports with a variety of adaptive equipment.
Snowsports can be enjoyed by everyone thanks to the invention of several pieces of equipment designed specifically for disabled skiers. Here is an overview kit you can expect to see within disability snowsports.
Skiers use one ski and two outriggers (outriggers are forearm crutches with ski tips mounted to the base). This is predominantly used by skiers with one leg. Disabilities which benefit from using a three-track may include: leg amputees, post-polio, or trauma affecting mostly one leg.
Skiers use two skis (often held together with a bungee cord or metal ski bra) and two outriggers or a walker. People using this may have cerebral palsy, post polio, spina bifidia, athrogryposis, muscular distrophy, multiple sclerosis, congential defect or traumatic injury.
The skier is in a seated position. The monoski is designed for low level paraplegics and people with conditions affecting their legs. The moulded seat is attached to a single ski and requires balance and strength. The monoski is designed for people with spinal cord injuries and double amputees. Other disabilities may include spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, muscular distrophy and cerebral palsy.
This piece of equipment is more stable than the monoski and also allows skiers to sit down. Outriggers can be used, which have short skis attached to the bottom to aid with balance. The outriggers can be held if the skier has good arm use, or attached to act like stabilisers on a bicycle. The bi-ski is moved by transferring body weight from side to side and speed is controlled by an instructor holding tethers. Disabilities which benefit from using a bi-ski include cerebral palsy, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular distrophy, spina bifida, spinal cord injuries and multiple amputations.
Here are some useful websites and resources:
www.backuptrust.org.uk – Supporting people with spinal cord injuries
www.basi.org.uk – British Association of Snowsport Instructors – runs adaptive skiing instructor course
www.disabilitysnowsport.org.uk – The main UK snowsports website for skiers and snowboarders with disabilities
www.efds.co.uk – English Federation of Disability Sport
www.scope.org.uk – Disability organisation in England whose focus is people with cerebral palsy.
www.ski2freedom.com – Enables disabled and special needs children and adults to participate in snowsports and mountain activities
www.snowbility.co.uk – Charity based at UK snowdomes providing ski instruction to people with additional needs and mental health challenges