The Sit-Ski was one of the first sitting position skis developed, for people with lower extremity limitations. This may include those with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, lower extremity amputations, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, brain injury or spinal cord injuries. The Sit-Ski is usually preferred by people with significant physical limitations.
Sit skiing has evolved into an adaptive sport that challenges a rider with a disability, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Adapted skiing first started with the invention of the "sit-ski" and the "mono-ski," benefiting both snow and water-skiers.
Outdoor enthusiasts with disabilities of all types, from paraplegia to blindness, can now enjoy adaptive skiing worldwide.
Sit-skiing involves the use of a sled or pulk-type device such as a seated type of shell that has a slippery bottom and sits directly on the snow. Individuals who use a wheelchair for mobility use this method.
Sit skiers use short outriggers. Outriggers are forearm crutches with shortened skis attached at the base of the crutch, which provide balance and steering maneuverability.
To turn the Sit-Ski, a skier can drag very short ski poles in the snow and lean in the desired direction.
The equipment is simple and straightforward. There is no standardization of the frame or seat designs.
The Buddy system employs a second skier or guide to assist a disabled skier in negotiating a ski slope or trail. Used initially with visually impaired or blind skiers, the concept has been extended to programs for the deaf and mentally impaired.
Sit-skiers are not allowed to ski untethered until they pass certification tests.
A factoring system was created for para-alpine skiing to allow the grouping of classifications into three general groups:
One medal event can then be held for each group even though there is a wide range of functional mobility and medical differences.
The factoring system works by having a number for each class based on their functional mobility or vision levels, where the results are calculated by multiplying the finish time by the factored number. The resulting number is the one used to determine the winner in events where the factor system is used. This means the faster skier down a hill may not be the winner of an event.
Adaptive snow sports equipment is ever evolving and access to the wilderness, especially in the winter months of the year, is finally becoming more of a reality for everyone.