Adaptive Snowboarding for Wheelchair Users

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the snow and get a good workout, then adaptive snowboarding may be the sport for you! Snowboarding has been adapted for everyone of all abilities to be able to participate. However, even though anyone can go downhill, Disabled Sports USA says that people with body asymmetry are good candidates for adaptive snowboarding. This includes people with amputations, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries and hemiplegia.

Adaptive Snowboarding Equipment

If you are just starting off and don’t want to invest in equipment just yet, there is a possibility that you can rent it, depending on the place where you are taking lessons. We recommend that you call the place where you will be taking lessons beforehand to see if they offer rentals.

Some basic equipment you will need is a pair of boots, bindings, a snowboard, and a helmet. When picking out a snowboard, you should consider your height, weight and ability level. The board’s length when upright should be between the rider’s chin and nose.

There are three styles of boards and some adapted styles. A good choice for beginners is the freestyle, also known as the twin tip. The freestyle board has an equally turned up tip and tail, allowing the rider to ride easily in either direction.

For a slightly stiffer board, you may consider a freeriding board, which features a soft flex. One type of board that is not recommended for beginners because of its lack of versatility is alpine board. Its nose is more upturned than the tail and it has a narrower mid-section. It’s good for high responsiveness and carving deeply through gates. There is also the mono-board, which is good for sit-snowboarding.

Other adaptive equipment you may need includes ski poles and bamboo poles for assistance with balance, tethering to help the instructor control the speed and direction of their students, outriggers to improve stability and tandem boards, another type of board that helps instructors working with students that have different disabilities.

Adaptive Snowboarding Classes

Instructors who are trained in adaptive snowboarding, rather than just traditional snowboarding, are trained to notice the small details and mistakes that their students may be making, relating to stance or technique. Because of this, we strongly recommend that you find a certified instructor to get you started with the basics of snowboarding. With their knowledge and observation, they can correct students to help them improve.

Adaptive Snowboarding Competitions

Competitors are classified based on their functional ability, allowing snowboarders with different disabilities to compete against each other. Athletes are examined and then put into one of twelve categories:

  • SB1 – athletes with severe disabilities in both lower limbs
  • SB2 – athletes with severe disabilities in one lower limb
  • SB3 – athletes with moderate disabilities in both lower limbs
  • SB4 – athletes with moderate disabilities in one lower limbs
  • SB5 – athletes with disabilities in both upper limbs
  • SB6 – athletes with disabilities in one upper limb
  • SB9 – athletes with disabilities in one upper and one lower limb
  • SB10 – sitting class for athletes with disabilities in both lower limbs and trunk
  • SB11 – sitting class for athletes with disabilities in both lower limbs and partial trunk function
  • SB12 – sitting class for athletes with disabilities in lower limbs and good trunk function

After being examined and classified, you may want to investigate full-time training programs and camps for adaptive snowboard competitions that are located around the country. Disabled Sports USA highly recommends looking for a coach to train you for competitions, rather than an instructor, since coaches are trained to know when their students are ready to compete, rather than letting them compete too early, which could result in an injury. Para-snowboarding was first introduced in the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Both men and women can compete.

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