Adaptive Skiing for Wheelchair Users

There are plenty of adaptive sports that are played indoors or outside during the months with nicer weather. Because of weather conditions during the winter, such as snow and ice, some people may feel like they can’t go outside or play any sports during that time. However, there are multiple options for those who are interested in having fun while getting a workout during the winter. One of the most popular options for winter sports is adaptive skiing, which has been around since the 1940s.

There are different types of adaptive ski events that wheelchair users can participate in, much like the traditional ski events. Some styles are downhill skiing, Super-G, slalom and giant slalom.

One of the main differences between skiing and other sports is that it’s a very inclusive sport. If someone has a disability and learns how to ski, they can ski right alongside able-bodied skiers.

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Learning How to Ski

If you are interested in learning how to ski, Disabled Sports USA has chapters with adaptive ski programs nationwide. Visit their Locations page and search for a skiing program near you. If there isn’t a chapter near you, you can call the nearest ski site and ask if they have an adaptive program. Many ski resorts are now familiar with adaptive skiing. Some resorts even offer ski rentals and lessons. It may take a little bit of time to get the technique down, but once you do, much like water skiing, you can be on the slopes with your friends and family in no time.

You can rent or buy ski equipment. If you are just starting out, it is recommended that you rent ski equipment at first so that you know what is right for you.

Adaptive Ski Equipment

There is ski equipment for all types of disabilities. The type of ski you will need depends on your physical abilities. Some equipment is made for skiers who can ski independently, such as the sit-ski and single ski. Sit-skis are used by 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 only difference between the single and double skis is that the double skis provide more stability. It is not recommended that beginner skiers use a single ski, as it requires a lot of balance. There is also equipment available that allows a guide to ride on the back of the ski to help steer.

Adaptive Skiing Competitions

Adaptive skiing has been a Paralympic sport since 1992. If your goal is to participate in the Paralympics one day, Disabled Sports USA recommends 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. They then recommend getting involved with a full-time program, whether it’s a Paralympic Sport Club or a DSUSA Chapter, or a ski school.

Adaptive Skiing Classifications

Like many adaptive sports out there, there is a classification system for athletes who want to participate in competitions. Classification systems are created to ensure fair competition between competitors. Athletes must be assessed by a team of both medical and sports technical professionals before 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