Getting Involved In Disability Snowsport
It’s possible to go skiing and snowboarding with just about any disability.
The level of assistance you will need will be entirely disability related. Special adapted equipment is necessary for some people.
There are many clubs affiliated to the home nations who offer lessons and facilities to disabled Snowsport participants. You can visit the Facility and Club finder here to find your nearest slope and register for a lesson which suits you.
You can also visit GB Snowsport to find out more about how you can get involved in Para Snowsport, and about the different pathways.
Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK) is an organisation that works to make sure that anyone with a disability, may it be learning, sensory or physical, can ski or snowboard alongside other people. They cater for complete novices to Snowsport, all the way to advanced participants with both Snowsport schools and local groups up and down the country.
Types of Adaptive Snowsport
A mono ski is a seat mounted on a single ski through a spring suspension system. Outriggers are used for balance and propulsion on flat snow. Mono-skis have a mechanism for getting onto a chairlift. They are designed to be skied independently. Mono-skis are used by people with lower limb impairments with reasonable balance. People with these impairments might mono-ski: Brain Trauma, Double amputee, Post-polio, Muscular dystrophy, Cerebral palsy, Spinal cord injury, Multiple sclerosis, Spina-bifida.
Outriggers are metal elbow crutches with the tip section of a ski pivoted on the bottom of the crutch. Some outriggers have adjustable brakes attached to the back edge of the ski to give some speed control. Outriggers are used to aid balance and/or to give support. Outriggers are used by mono-skiers, bi-skiers and standing skiers needing aid with balance.
A bi-ski is a sit ski with a moulded bucket seat and two skis that can be skied independently like the mono-ski with hand-held outriggers, or it can be skied with the assistance of an instructor using stabilizing outriggers and tethers. The skier moves his or her head, shoulders or hand-held outriggers to turn the bi-ski. The bi-ski has a lift mechanism for getting onto a chairlift. It can also be used to accustom a new sit-skier to the snow before moving to a mono-ski. Bi-skis are used by people with upper and lower limb impairments and with poor balance.
People with these impairments might bi-ski: Cerebral palsy, Multiple sclerosis, Muscular dystrophy, Amputees, spinal cord injury, severe epilepsy, Spina bifida, severe balance impairment.
Two Track Skiing
Two Track Skiing is suitable for any skier who stands on two skis and does not require outriggers. The skier can stand and maintain balance while in motion, although adaptive equipment such as tethers and ski bras may be used to aid in leg strength. Two tracking is best suited to students with developmental and cognitive disabilities, visual impairment, and hearing impairment.
Three Track Skiers
Three track skiers have one sound leg and two sound arms. They are generally individuals who have amputations, post-polio or hemiplegia. Three trackers use a full-size ski and outriggers giving them three points of contact on the snow. These skiers usually progress quite rapidly.
Four Track Skiing
Four track skiing is stand up skiing using two skis with two hand-held outriggers for balance. In addition, students may use a variety of other stabilising equipment. Provides student with four-points of contact with the snow. Designed for those with leg strength and/or stability issues. People with these impairments might use four track skiing: Cerebral palsy, Multiple sclerosis, Post-polio, Spinal cord injury, Stroke, Muscular dystrophy, Spina bifida, Amputees.
Snowboarding is suitable for anyone who can stand unaided whether using prosthetics or otherwise. The equipment used in adaptive snowboard is the same for most disabilities: Boots, bindings and snowboard. Adaptions are sometimes made to prosthetics to improve their interaction with the board such as heel wedges and padding in the shin. Sometimes tethers may be used to aid with steering in the learning phase and for those with double leg amputations special bindings are used.
Para Nordic has Paralympic classification categories for sit-skiers and those with leg, arm, combined and visual impairments. The discipline is comprised of two types of events- cross country skiing, which ranges from 2.5km to 20km in classical and freestyle techniques and biathlon, which combines shooting 5 targets from 10m between skiing laps. In the summer Para Nordic skiers can practise and train on roller skis.
There is a roller ski race series across the UK to get involved in for those that would like to compete.
Click here to view a list of all clubs and facilities in the UK where you can take part in disability Snowsport.