It takes a lot of trust and courage to try a new sport. It can be daunting at first but adaptive skiing is worth it. I loved it from the first time I tried it on a school camp as a teenager.
It has since become a hobby and a passion.
Here are my five reasons to give it a go.
Everyone can do it
Organisations and resorts make it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy adaptive sports. There are trained and passionate adaptive instructors, adaptive equipment to hire and bonus discounts for people with a disability. Disabled Wintersport Australia (DWA) is a great organisation to join to be able to experience adaptive snow sports during the Australian winter. They offer equipment hire, guides to assist and they have camps.
If you’re wondering what a sit ski is like, I’d describe it as being similar to sitting in a bucket. It’s a snug fit with padding used to fill any gaps and straps to ensure you don’t fall out.
A variety of sit skis are available and it’s a matter of trying the different types to work out what works best for you. A mono ski, as the name suggests, has only one ski and a bi ski has two skis. The bi-ski is more stable which makes it easier to balance and lessens the chance of falling. Outriggers go on each arm to help control the sit ski.
The beauty of the sport is you can do as little or as much as you’d like to do. If you’d like to sit back and let someone else do all the work, you can do that, or you can work towards achieving independence on the snow.
A good place to start is to be bucketed in a bi ski. This means you sit in the sit ski and let an instructor do all the work to turn the ski. It helps to get a feel for how it works while enjoying the view.
I love the soft powdery snow of Japan. I’ve been buried deep in snow and popped up looking like a snowman which added to the fun! I also love skiing under sunny skies in Australia.
Taking care of a few practicalities will ensure you have a good time on your snow holiday. My top tip is to wear many layers so you can add or remove layers depending on conditions. Keeping warm is essential.
And remember, if you’re a wheelchair user, it can be tricky to push a wheelchair on the hills, snowy ground and with the many layers of clothes. Wearing gloves can help with gripping the slippery rims when they get wet. Wheel blades (mini skis that attach to the front wheels of a wheelchair) will prevent the front wheels from sinking and ensure you glide through the snow.
The beautiful scenery
Adaptive skiing equipment has enabled me to see some beautiful snowy scenes. The views from the top of mountains are incredible. There are so many places to explore with different views! I’ve enjoyed the accessible Peak to Peak Gondola in Whistler which connects Whistler to Blackcomb mountain. But, don’t look down if you are afraid of heights!
I’ve even been able to enjoy views from above in a helicopter between Falls and Hotham resorts.
New friends & good times with family
It’s enjoyable to chill out with like-minded people. Chairlift and gondola rides are a great way to get to know your instructors and guides. It’s also an opportunity to ride and share the experience with family and friends.
Learn & grow
I love to learn and grow stronger. I’ve learnt so much about how to be able to ski. I also feel stronger and I am now able to do so much more. Over time I’ve gained more confidence and skills.
These are my favourite adaptive skiing resorts:
- Falls Creek, Vic, Australia
- Thredbo, NSW, Australia
- Myoko Japan
You can read more of Kate’s tips on her website Kate Swain – The Wheel Life (www.kateswain.com)