Introducing Adaptive Snow Sports
Organising a holiday can be stressful at the best of times, but organising a holiday when a member of your family or friends has a disability, or if you have a disability yourself, can be even more problematic and can also have unexpected challenges. Just trying to find somewhere nice to stay is hard enough, but making sure it will meet everyone’s needs can cause great anxiety and stress. You also need to know that there will be things to do when you get there which are inclusive for everyone. Skiing is a great family and group holiday idea, beautiful scenery and an opportunity to do something fun and active together. Disabled skiing and snowboarding (adaptive snow sports) are becoming more and more popular as facilities and equipment are becoming better and better. No matter their ability, most adults and children should be able to learn to ski using specially adapted equipment. There are now more organisations out there that can help you get the most out of a ski holiday and have the time of your lives. If you have never tried skiing or snowboarding before, it may be worth trying one of the indoor snow centres first. The main snow centres in the UK are Snowdome in Tamworth, Chill Factore in Manchester and Snozone in Milton Keynes. Disability Snowsport UK are now also offering lessons with a specially qualified adaptive instructor.
Here is a quick overview of the different types of adaptive equipment available:
This is normally the choice for people who have use of one leg and both arms e.g. an amputee. They will use one ski and two forearm crutches on mini skis – these are called outriggers.
Skiers use two skis (often held together by metal clips) and two outriggers. This may be a good option for those who have cerebral palsy, post polio, spina bifidia, arthrogryposis, muscular distrophy, multiple sclerosis, congential defect or traumatic injuries.
This is chosen when people need to be in a seated position but have the use of both arms. It comprises of a moulded seat mounted onto a single ski and the use of two outriggers. It requires a good core stability and balance. The monoski is designed for low-level paraplegics and people with conditions affecting their legs e.g spinal cord injuries, double amputees, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, muscular distrophy and cerebral palsy.
This is the most stable option in a seated position; the moulded seat is mounted onto two skis and can be controlled by a person skiing behind. The bi-ski is suitable for people who need more trunk support and are unable to steer themselves e.g. moderate-severe cerebral palsy, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular distrophy, spina bifida, spinal cord injuries, multiple amputations.
The beauty of a holiday in the mountains is that you don’t have to just ski. The mountains provide the perfect backdrop for you try and experience many other activities such as sledging, husky dog sledging, snowmobiles, walking or even just playing in the snow!
There are some great websites out there that help with how to get there, places to stay, how to hire equipment, lessons and insurance including:
Disability Snowsport, the main UK snowsports website for skiers and snowboarders with disabilities.
Impossible Dream, where you can rent ski-bobs and ski equipment.
Red Point, adaptive ski holidays, courses and information.
Ski2Freedom, enabling disabled and special needs children and adults to participate in snowsports and mountain activities