Adaptive Snowboarding for Wheelchair Users

Do you have a need for speed, but you aren’t sure which sport is the right fit for you? While adaptive mountain biking, surfing or water skiing would be a great choice for the warmer months of the year, you may be wondering what you can do during the winter months. If you enjoy the outdoors and snow, there are a few winter sports that have been adapted for wheelchair users, one of them being snowboarding.

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Who Can Participate?

While anyone can go downhill, Disabled Sports USA says that people with body asymmetry make good candidates for adaptive snowboarding. This includes people with cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, spinal cord injuries and amputations.

Adaptive Snowboarding Equipment

If you have an interest in adaptive snowboarding, you’ll need some general equipment, such as boots, snowboard bindings, a snowboard, and a helmet. When picking out a snowboard, you should consider your height, weight and ability level. Typically, the board’s length when upright is between the rider’s chin and nose.

There are three styles of boards: freestyle or twin tip, freeriding or directional board and alpine/race boards. The twin tip board has an equally turned up tip and tail, allowing the rider to ride easily in either direction. It also makes a good choice of board for beginners. The freeriding board is slightly stiffer than the freestyle board, which features a soft flex. The alpine board’s nose is more upturned than the tail. It also has a narrower mid-section. It’s not as versatile as the freeriding board, but it’s good for high responsiveness and carving deeply through gates.

When it comes to snowboards, there are some that are adapted for a variety of disabilities. Some of these boards are the mono-board, good for sit-snowboarding, ski poles and bamboo poles for assistance with balance, outriggers to improve stability, tethering to help the instructor control the speed and direction of their students, and tandem boards, another type of board that helps instructors working with students that have different impairments.

If you are just starting off and aren’t looking to invest in equipment yet, there is a possibility that you can rent it, depending on the place where you are taking lessons.

Adaptive Snowboarding Classes

The best snowboarding instructor is one who is certified. 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. With their knowledge and observation, they can correct students to help them improve.

Adaptive Snowboarding Competitions

After getting your technique and stance down, you may be wanting to further your experience in adaptive snowboarding. There are full-time training programs and camps for adaptive snowboarding 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. This is because 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. Before competing, riders must be put into one of three classifications:

• Sport class SB-LL1: Riders with a significant impairment in one leg, such as above knee amputation, or significant combined impairment in two legs, such as significant muscle weakness or spasticity in both legs.
• Sport class SB-LL2: Riders with an impairment in one or two legs with less activity limitation, such as a below knee amputation.
• Sport Class SB-UL: Riders with an impairment to their upper limbs.