Winter Sports for the Disabled

The 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics made us all more aware of the growing numbers of sports which are available to those with varying disabilities. The games showed that there truly is no limit to what the human body can achieve, especially when involved in intense sports performed on snow or ice.

The venture of vast snow-covered scenery by people with disabilities is hugely challenging, with safety and stability to be put first and foremost. However, with determination and a little innovation, a handicap or disability can be easily overcome in order to have the same winter sports fun as everyone else on the piste. So what’s available?

Depending on your disability and your requirements, there are several variations on the standard ski. For example, the dual-ski pilot involves you being seated on an articulated seat, on top of dual short skis, pushed and directed by a pilot, who doesn’t have to be specially trained, just a confident enough skier to ‘pilot’ you down the run.

The Kartski is another alternative, offering skiers the opportunity to ski independently with the use of their upper arms but do not have enough balance for skiing. The skier sits on a harnessed seat and steers the Kartski with handles on each side for navigation and braking.
The Uniski and Dualski are also both different variations on the sit-ski, and are similar to the pilot and the Kartski. As the names would suggest, the Uniski only have one ski, whereas the Dualski has two, and the skier uses ski poles to gain speed and change direction.
Adaptive snowboarding refers to a modified version of the original snowboarding sport, with changes in rules, equipment and some technical specifications which allow people with physical disabilities to participate in both recreational and competitive snowboarding. It involves an ‘outrigger’, a board with a handle attached for balance, and sometimes a pilot, but the adaptive snowboarding equipment depends entirely on the ingenuity and creativity of the specialist instructors at the resort, many who customise their own equipment in order to provide for those with disabilities.Appropriate equipment is ability-oriented and based on whether a student has sufficient balance and strength to ride vertically.

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