Impaired skiers must maneuver and traverse and slalom, just as the nonhandicapped. The techniques and equipment used, however, do differ.

The two principal systems for skiers with physical problems are those for skiers who can ski while standing and those for the disabled who can ski only while sitting. Standees include those with a single lower extremity, skiers who’ve lost one or both upper extremities, and blind and low-vision skiers. Sit-skiers are those who’ve lost both legs, paraplegics, quadriplegics, and skiers with other physical problems.

Standing skiers use a one-, three-, or four-track technique, depending on the number of tracks left in the snow.

One-trackers are the most skillful. They need no special equipment - just one ski and a pair of regular poles. In 1987-88, Diana Golden was named Ski Racing’s U. S. Alpine Skier of the Year. She’s a one-track skier, and a seven-time world champion.

The lone skier we saw whipping down the slopes with all the skill of my wife or myself was a three-track skier. He was skiing on one leg and using two outriggers - forearm crutch-style ski poles with short skis attached to them. The outriggers give added balance and steering ability.

Four-trackers are those who can ski on two skis but need the stabilization of outriggers.

Skiers unable to stand are sit-skiers. They use one of two types of equipment: a sled, or a seat mounted on a mono-ski.

The sled-skier flies down the mountains in a Norwegian pulk - a sled shaped much like a child’s pedal car - or a molded sled. He uses two short ski poles to reach over the sides of the sled for guidance, and to push himself along.

The seat-skier uses a seat mounted on a mcmO'ski - a ski that’s almost as wide as a snowboard but as long as a regular ski. The seat is much higher than that in a pulk.

Like the sled-skier, the seat-skier has two short ski poles, which may be either outrigger style or regular, for balance or for pushing herself along when the slope flattens out.

With the exceptions of the blind and sled-skiers, the physically handicapped can often ride the chairlifts by themselves. Sled-skiers need special, caring assistants to load them and their sleds onto the lifts.

More about Skiing:
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Ratings - Part 2

Low Intermediate: Is beginning to link parallel turns and can actually ski and stop with only minor problems. Recommended skiing: Green and blue trails. Should…

Disabled Competitions

Ski competitions for both standing and sitting skiers are held throughout the country and in Europe. Both Aspen Highlands and Mount Hood Meadows ski resorts…


European tourist offices can provide you with general information, as well as specific information about individual resorts. Contact them at: Austrian tourist…