A Beginner’s Guide to Adaptive Skiing

Do you want to participate in winter sports but don’t think it’s possible because you believe that they are only for able-bodied individuals? Several winter sports have been adapted so that people of all abilities can take part. One of the most popular options for winter sports is adaptive skiing, which has been around since the 1940s.  In fact, there are different types of adaptive ski events, much like the traditional ski events, such as downhill skiing, Super-G, slalom and giant slalom.

Not only has skiing been adapted for wheelchair users, it’s a very inclusive sport. If someone has a disability and learns how to ski, they can ski right alongside able-bodied skiers.

Adaptive Ski Equipment

There is ski equipment for all types of disabilities. What you choose depends on what your physical abilities are. Sit-skis, for example, are good for people who have lower limb disabilities. True to its name, the sit-ski is designed in such a way that the person sits down in the equipment and uses two poles to guide themselves.

The single ski, which is not recommended for beginners, is ideal for skiers who can ski independently. The only difference between the single and double skis is that the double skis provide more stability. There is also equipment available that allows a guide to ride on the back of the ski to help steer.

In many cases, adaptive ski equipment can be rented. It’s even recommended that you rent in the beginning, while you are just learning how to ski. Once you become a more advanced skier, you may consider investing in the right equipment for you.

Getting Started with Skiing Lessons

The first step to learning how to ski is to find a place that offers lessons. You can start off by finding the nearest ski site and asking if they have an adaptive program. Many ski resorts are familiar with adaptive skiing nowadays, and some of these resorts even offer ski rentals and lessons. If you can’t find a program at a ski resort near you, Disabled Sports USA has chapters with adaptive ski programs nationwide. You can visit their locations page and search for a skiing program in your area.

Once you start taking lessons, it’s good to know that it may take a little bit of time to get the technique down. However, once you have it down, much like water skiing, you can be on the slopes with your friends and family in no time.

Adaptive Skiing Classifications

Once you have gotten the proper technique down and feel confident in your skills, you may be interested in skiing competitively. Like many adaptive sports out there, there is a classification system for athletes, created to ensure a fair competition. Athletes must be assessed by a team of both medical and sports technical professionals prior to competing.

Classification in Alpine Skiing has 12 physical impairment classes:

  • Classes 1-9 are for stand-up skiers
  • Classes 10-12 are for mono-skiers

Adaptive Skiing Competitions Adaptive skiing has been a part of the Paralympics since 1992. If your dream is to participate in the Paralympic Games, Disabled Sports USA suggests enrolling in the Diana Golden Race Development Program. The Disabled Sports USA chapters offer training camps, clinics, and other programs for those interested in taking their skiing skills to the next level.

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