Adaptive Skiing

Adaptive skiing is a sport where you can experience the exhilaration of the wind and speed against your body.

History of Adaptive Skiing

In 1976 Slalom and Giant Slalom were introduced at the first Paralympic Winter Games in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. Agility and speed combined allow racers to reach speeds of 100 km/h in Alpine Skiing events.

Athletes compete in three categories based on their functional ability and from a results calculation system where they compete against each other.

The governing body is the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in conjunction with the IPC Alpine Skiing Technical Committee. The IPCAS rules are followed.

Veterans and Adaptive Skiing

Following WWII the sport grew out of the desires of returning injured servicemen who wanted to return to a sport they loved. In 1948 the first courses were available. Rapid growth of the sport included only amputees and the visually impaired until the 1970s. With the introduction of the mono-ski people in wheelchairs (double above the knee amputees and paraplegics) were able to participate.

Adaptive Skiing Becomes A Sport

The International Ski Commission was founded in 1910. In 1924 the International Ski Association was founded at the Olympic Winter Games in France.

Seventeen athletes took part in the 1948 Championships for skiers with disabilities in Badgastein, Austria. The 1950s saw adaptive skiing develop around the world.

In 1976 the first Paralympic Winter Games included the official events of the Slalom and Giant Slalom as well as three distances in Nordic Skiing, and relays for the visually impaired athletes and those with severe disabilities.

The Downhill was added in 1984 at Innsbruck, Austria; and the Super G was added in 1994 at Lillehammer, Norway.

Sit-skiing or Mono-skiing was introduced as a demonstration sport in 1984 and became a medal event in 1998 at the Nagano Paralympic Games.

Adaptive Skiing Events

Downhill Skiing

The downhill skiing is a long steep course that may include turns and jumps. The skier only passes through a few gates as checkpoints. Missing a gait disqualifies an athlete and only one run is allowed down the course.


The slalom is a technical event, shorter than the Alpine events and has a higher number of gates to run through. Athletes complete two runs in the same day on different courses. A missed gate disqualifies the athlete. The two times are added together to determine the order of the finish.

Giant Slalom

This event is another technical event, is longer with fewer turns which are larger and smoother than the slalom. The vertical drop of the course determines the number of gates. The athlete completes two runs on the same day with their times being added to determine the order of the finish.

Super Giant Slalom

Known as the Super-G this course is shorter than the downhill but longer than the slalom and giant slalom makes this a speed event. The number of gates is determined by the vertical drop and has a minimum number of direction changes (35 for men) and (30 for women). One run down determines the finish. Missing a gate disqualifies the skier.

Super Combined

The event combines one Downhill and one Slalom run or a Slalom run and a Super-G. The results are the total of the combined times of both runs.

Adaptive Skiing Equipment

Skis are long and narrow with a minimum of 60mm. Men’s skis are 165 cm and women’s are 155 cm. The binding plate height maximum is 55mm in all events.

Sit-skis or Mono-skis have a specially fitted chair over a single ski. The chair includes seatbelts and other strapping as well as a suspension device to minimize wear and tear on the skiers’ body.

Poles or Outriggers are used for propulsion and balance. Curved poles to fit around the body are used for the Downhill and Super-G events. Slalom poles are straight and usually have guards to protect the hands from injury.

Outriggers have short ski blades on the end and help with balance. Certain classifications of athletes use outriggers. Boots have a hard plastic exterior with extensive foot and ankle support. Alpine skiers use bindings that fasten at the toe and heel.

Helmets are hard shelled and are required at Alpine Skiing events.

Goggles are worn to maximize visibility and to protect the eyes.

Clothing is lightweight and form fitting to minimize air resistance.

Pads are frequently worn for protection from injury.

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