Definition: Defining the Meaning of Adaptive Snowboarding (Para-snowboarding)
The sport originally called Adaptive Snowboard is now practiced by hundreds of athletes around the world. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) defines two classes: SB-LL for athletes with a physical impairment affecting one or both legs, and SB-UL for athletes with a physical impairment affecting one or both arms who compete standing. The sport made its official Winter Paralympic debut in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. Classifications exist for deaf competitors, blind competitors, people with physical disabilities and those with intellectual disabilities.
What is Adaptive Snowboarding
Adaptive Snowboarding refers to a modified version of the sport, with changes in equipment, rules, and technical specifications that enable persons with physical disabilities to participate in both recreational and competitive activities.
Pipelines, shredding, jibbers, and boarder-cross are all part of snowboarding fun. Adaptive snow sports centers across the U.S. and beyond are offering lessons, equipment rentals, and designated slopes and woodlands to keep snowboarders happy.
Adaptive snowboard events include male and female athletes with a physical disability such as spinal injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, and visual impairments. Athletes compete based on their functional ability, allowing athletes with different disabilities to compete against each other.
A sling-shot Snowboard-cross format provides a combination of both race and freestyle elements, while challenging the athletes regardless of their disability. The sling-shot format consists of a "best-of" 2 or 3 time trial runs.
Adaptive snowboarding athletes compete and use the same venue as able-body Snowboard-cross events at the provincial series level. The event format is also conducive to a classification process, which will be finalized by the adaptive snowboarding International Federation which has been yet to be determined.
In general, snowboards are chosen on the basis of the rider's height, weight, and ability level, with the upright board's length usually between the rider's chin and nose. While designs are similar, details separate choices into three styles - freestyle, free-riding, and alpine and race boards. Some adaptive riders use outriggers to help balance themselves while they board, but many don't use any special equipment. Also bindings on the board can be moved to help with balance.
Prospective snowboarders with amputations or limb discrepancies will be reviewed according to their functional abilities as well as the type of prosthesis worn to determine which becomes the lead foot on the board.
As with any adaptive sport, equipment may either be rented or purchased, depending on the supply carried at the site where lessons are held.
The Canadian Snowboard Federation (CSF) has developed a comprehensive adaptive snowboarding program called the Canadian Adaptive Snowboard Program also known as CASP. The CASP consists of athlete development camps, adaptive snowboarding competitions, and training opportunities for coaches.
Although Adaptive Snowboarding has garnered enough attention from other snowboarders, the sport is still in its earliest stages of development. It may take a while before it gets included in the roster of games in the Winter Paralympic Games, but with the help of organizations willing to aid its development, it is not at all impossible for it to become a part of the world paralympic stage.
In much the same way that disabled athletes mastered adaptive ski equipment and techniques to bring their sport to a Paralympic level, it's likely that adaptive snowboarders will also be producing glitzy moves and gravity-defying tricks suitable for international competition. This sport offers hope to those who feel that their physical disabilities hinder them from taking any form of physical activity ever again in their lives.
Quick Facts: World Snowboard Federation Classifications
- SB1 for athletes with severe disabilities in both lower limbs
- SB2 for athletes with severe disabilities in one lower limb
- SB3 for athletes with moderate disabilities in both lower limbs
- SB4 for athletes with moderate disabilities in one lower limbs
- SB5 for athletes with disabilities in both upper limbs
- SB6 for athletes with disabilities in one upper limb
- SB9 for athletes with disabilities in one upper and one lower limb
- SB10 sitting class for athletes with disabilities in both lower limbs and trunk
- SB11 sitting class for athletes with disabilities in both lower limbs and partial trunk function
- SB12 sitting class for athletes with disabilities in lower limbs and good trunk function
The WSF also defines three visual impairment class, B1, B2 and B3, identical to those used by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) for other sports for visually impaired athletes.