top of page

ADAPTIVE SKIING

is for individuals with either/both mobility or vision impairment.

“Adaptive” is exactly that! There is never a dull moment. It is a consistent “dealing with the unknown”. We frequently need to adapt technique instruction or equipment for an individual to achieve success and personal goals. Frequently goals are re-aligned. (Just arriving at Selkirk Lodge may be the primary goal).

WinterFest2019-Adaptive-Bthiessen 02.jpg

The presence of adaptive skiing on the Spokane Nordic website connects individuals to the resources needed to access opportunities previously perceived as “impossible” due to vision or mobility impairments.


There is no “program delivery system” and no cost involved. We do not “rent” or loan equipment for personal or independent use due to liability concerns.

The main goal is to provide an individual with an experiential opportunity, an introduction to equipment, and the skills needed to pursue an activity independently. This avoids dependency upon a strong, capable, and competent volunteer base and the liability associated with program delivery.


The local group of volunteers is connected nationwide to program experts and the USPN staff who offer guidance for equipment fitting/acquisition, technique coaching, etc. We’re one small step in the developmental paralympic pathway as well as being an access point for adaptive outdoor recreation.


Regionally, we actively support the Methow Paranordic Initiative, send skiers to their Paranordic clinic, and provide assistance with “coaching”.


Spokane Langlauf continues to be an inclusive community Nordic celebration. This year, the presence of the race is on the USPN web calendar.


Nationally, members of Spokane Nordic provide guiding expertise for the annual Ski for Light International event which takes place in different locations annually.

WHO does this and HOW do they get connected?
Individuals with either/both mobility or vision-impairment.


The preference is that an individual be referred by their health care support team (PT/OT, etc), and accompanied by a friend or family member. The equipment can be brought to the clinic and fitted to them by the health care team. The first outing is a team effort of problem-solving with the healthcare professional present.


Others send an inquiry to Spokane Nordic or Fitness Fanatics which is forwarded to our Adaptive Liason, Robin Redman, for contact and evaluation. We had 6 inquiries in 2023, 4 of which were successful encounters and 2 were referred elsewhere. Inquiries came from Spokane, Yakima, Coeur d’Alene, Seattle, and Canada. Ages ranged from 9 years old to 64 years old.


Among those individuals who are choosing to continue Nordic skiing are a 50-year-old (stroke with R side weakness) and 3 with spinal cord injury. Sports for the Blind continues to grow and participate in winter recreation, snow-shoeing, nordic skiing, and alpine skiing.

Vision Impairments

With communication from a trained guide, those with vision impairments can find independence and freedom on well-groomed Nordic tracks. Individuals can leave their dogs and canes behind as they learn to “see with their feet” and navigate through nature.

blind ski1.jpg

Mobility Impairments

Sit-down - Those individuals, with (but not limited to), spinal cord injuries, amputations, and balance/coordination challenges, can utilize a sit-ski. The sit-ski, a low seated frame mounted onto skis, allows skiers to pole themselves along trails with or without assistance from friends or trained volunteers.

Stand-up - Those individuals with upper extremity amputations/weakness, or below-knee amputations can ski in a traditional standing manner with technique adaptations that emphasize forward momentum and control while on skis.

WHERE
In addition to Mt. Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park, accessible trails are now available at a in Spokane. Urban parks will be groomed on a weekly basis, with adequate snow coverage.
These flat areas are ideal for beginners or those working on technique. Current
grooming is done at Dwight Merkel Park and Indian Canyon. See

https://my.spokanecity.org/recreation/outdoor/groomed-trails/

EQUIPMENT

For those with mobility challenges, equipment availability is limited and not suitable for all
individuals. It requires 1:1 assessment and evaluation of deficit and adaptation needs.

If our local effort can not provide for the individual, they are referred to established non-profit programs that can offer a safe experience within an established and reputable infrastructure.


EWU Dept of Mechanical Engineering is designing a lightweight sled so that one individual can transport the mobi-mat and deploy it for easy accessibility from the parking lot to the lodge.

VOLUNTEER NEED?
Nordic skiing is fun when done with friends! Adaptive skiers would enjoy occasional ski
buddies. For safety reasons, it’s wise to have another skier present in case of unexpected
challenges.


It would be helpful to have an occasional strong skate skier who’d be willing to accompany
our local former paralympic sit-skier, *pre-arranged and scheduled for mutual convenience. (It  will not impact your work-out...in fact, it will enhance it)
Guiding our intrepid skiers with vision impairments is actually quite fun, low-key, and minimal effort. Guide training can be provided.


Requirements? Patience with a sense of humor and adventure.

TRAIL ETIQUETTE & SAFETY
Awareness of adaptive skiers on trail system for safety reasons. Sit skis do not have brakes.
New skit skiers may not be capable of maneuverability nor will blind skiers be able to change 
direction quickly to avoid collisions.


Please do NOT gather in groups on the trail or at the base of hills. This is a constant safety
issue for all users on the trail system, not just adaptive.


The typical Nordic skier should yield to both sit skier and blind skier.


Blind skiers may have different guiding needs, either in front or on the side. If on the side, they will take up space in the skating lane. Please communicate that you need to pass and the guide can move behind his blind skier (hopefully) and give you the space needed.


Occasionally a blind skier is also deaf, so may be guided on the opposite side of the trail.
We will try to have fluorescent vests on VI skiers to alert typical skiers of the need to offer space.

RESOURCES

US Paranordic coaching staff created their own instructor guide with basic concepts to help Nordic communities address the growing interest in adaptive Nordic. Their mobility impairment instruction is excellent.

teamusa.org/usparanordicskiing/resources

Ski for Light, (where many of our SNSA members have guided), has an excellent step-by-step instructor guide for teaching skiing to a person with a vision impairment. They also have created a new video that accompanies the guide.

sfl.org/events/next/guide-handbook/

Send us a message for more info or to volunteer.

Thanks for submitting!

This website is funded through skier donations. If you rely on it for a better ski experience,

join or donate today!

SNSA logo horizontal.png
bottom of page