Society often discriminates against those with disabilities,judging them only on their disability and not what they can and cannot do. Sports are often a way of getting disabled people to demonstrate their skills and change the attitude of others.
Adaptive skiing is a broad term used to describe skiing for the disabled. There are a number of techniques used to allow access to skiing for disabled people.
Three Track Skiing
In three track skiing the skier uses one ski and two outriggers. These are forearm crutches that have ski tips mounted to the bases. This method is usually adopted by someone with one strong leg, such as an amputee or someone who has had polio.
Four Track Skiing
In four track skiing the skier makes use of two skis in addition to outriggers or walker. A ‘ski bra’ or a chord between the skis is useful as it allows the skier to have more control. The outriggers are useful for skiers who have great difficulty walking without the assistance of crutches, are prone to falling forward or have a severe backward lean. This could relate to people with cerebral palsy, polio, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy.
Bi-ski involves the skier sitting in a firm seat that is attached to two asymmetrically cut skis. It is possible to use hand held outriggers or fixed outriggers attached to the bi-ski. It is possible to have greater stability with a bi-ski, compared to a mono-ski and is suitable for wheelchair users, people with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and multiple amputations
Sitting in a moulded seat attached to a single ski, and using hand held outriggers, the mono-ski can be difficult to use as a result of needing great balance and strength. The mono-ski is designed for people with double amputations, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
Adaptive skiing is also possible with no special equipment, where the skier is teamed up with a trained guide. This is often suitable for people with hearing and vision impairments.
If you don’t fancy the idea of mountain sports, maybe sledge hockey is for you. In sledge hockey participants sit just inches off the ice on sledges fitted with ice skate style blades, with the disabled and able bodied often playing and training side by side in this very fast and physical game. Players use a short hockey stick in each hand which has a normal blade at one end and a pick at the other.
One of the good things about sledge hockey is that when a player is strapped into his sledge both able bodied and disabled players participate on equal terms and no one can tell who is disabled and who isn’t. Everyone uses the same equipment.
Visiting A Snow Dome
Anyone who is interested in participating in skiing is recommended to first visit a snow dome, where it is possible to ski on an indoor slope that uses artificial snow. This will give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to do it for real either as a sport or just on holiday.