Competitive adaptive snowboarding - or snowboarding for the disabled - has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past decade. With the Paralympics as an end goal, the United States has forged the way for this adaptive movement.
In 2005, Adaptive Action Sports (AAS) - a nationally- recognized California nonprofit that creates "action sports" opportunities for disabled athletes, worked with the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) to create a competitive "adaptive" division within the USASA schedule.
The adaptive division grew and, in 2008, USASA - in partnership with AAS - hosted the first-ever Adaptive World Championship of Snowboarding. This event was sanctioned by the World Snowboard Federation (WSF). It marked a turning point for the growing sport, triggering worldwide involvement and fueling a push for the Paralympics.
In 2014, in Sochi Russia, the international adaptive snowboarding community hopes to bring a new sport to the Paralympic Games: Adaptive Boardercross. To help prepare adaptive riders (including veterans) for this goal, AAS has created a Pipeline of programs and camps. The programs/camps are intended as a pathway through which a permanently disabled snowboarder progresses from one skill level to another. Novices may become recreational snowboarders, who may become competitive racers. Some will eventually emerge onto the Paralympic scene.
Through the AAS Pipeline, campers are given snowboard instruction at their appropriate skill level. They are introduced - and given access - to USASA regional events. They are encouraged to participate in the annual USASA National Competition. Eventually, Pipeliners may elect to compete in a sanctioned World Cup/Championship event and ultimately, with some help, they may enter the Paralympic Games.
In support of the AAS Pipeline concept and the goal of seeing Adaptive Snowboarding included in the Paralympics, ESPN X Games is partnering with AAS, to host the first Adaptive Snowboarder X at Winter X Games 15 in Aspen, Colorado, on January 30th.
Being recognized by, and included in, the ESPN Winter X Games - the premiere and largest "action sports" competition in the world - will provide adaptive snowboarding a major boost in the effort for Sochi 2014.