Imagine the feeling of gliding across the snow after experiencing limitations which reduce your feeling of freedom. Adaptive skiing is described by many as a having a sense of freedom, exhilaration and accomplishment. Participation in adaptive skiing dates back to World War II, when injured troops made their own skis from their crutches to return to their beloved activity. Since then, technology in adaptive skiing has come a long way. It is amazing to see how technology now enables people of all ages, abilitites and skill levels, to ski. I want to showcase the ways people are participating in this thrilling sport, using various items of adaptive equipment which suit different abilities.
There are various options for people who participate in sit-skiing. A sit ski involves a seat called a ‘bucket’, which is attached to either one or two skis. Items called ‘outriggers’ are used for extra stability, and aid in steering the ski. Sit skis are designed so that a participant’s legs are fastened to the bucket and are able to load on and off a chair lift.
A mono ski is where the bucket is atached to only one ski. A skiier will often use two outriggers, which are similar to crutches, but with ski-like attachements on the bottom. Adapative skiiers who use a mono ski may have a lower limb impairment which means they need to be seated to participate. A mono-ski is more commonly used by more advanced and confident skiiers, requiring limited supports.
A dual-ski is where the bucket is attached to two skis. A dual-ski is a great option for someone who requires more stabillity, as the two skis provide an extra base of support when on the snow. If a skiier requires extra support for steering, they can be guided by another skiier by attaching tethers or bars to the rear of the bucket.
The progression of technology also enables people who have had an amputation to participate in standing skiing. Sports prostheses have been developed to enable people to paticipate in skiing after experiencing above or below knee amputations. The ProCarve Sports Prosthesis by Ottobock incorporporates hydrolic technology to dampen impact and support dynamic movement. This means the prosthetic can be used for other sports which involve similar movements, such as wakeboarding or water skiing. This prosthetic is just one example of a product used by both recreational and professional adaptive skiiers, as shown below.
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Skiing is one of the most progressed adaptive sports, enjoyed world-wide. Therefore, information about adaptive skiing was more accessible. When you think about the progression of adaptive snow sport technology, evolving from modified crutches, to high tech prosthesis and skis, it is amazing to see the progression and possibilities that technology can bring people with various limitations. If a person was to participate on a recreational level, cost may be a barrier to participation. Ski gear does not come cheap! However, for people wanting to give it a go, there are options for equipment hire and some organisations provide adaptive ski options and programs for people of all ages and various levels ability.
Check out Disabled Winter Sport Australia to find out more about the adaptive ski programs available in Victoria and New South Wales.