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Paralympics Adaptive Cross Country Skiing

  • Published: 2008-12-22 (Revised/Updated 2017-06-25) : Disabled World (Disabled World).
  • Synopsis: Paralympics Cross country Skiing will be taking place at the Whistler Olympic Park located just south of Whistler

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Quote: "Wheels can be attached to the sit-ski so that dry land and gymnasium training can be carried out."

Paralympic Cross Country Skiing:

There are two techniques used in cross-country skiing. Free style and Classic.

Free style skiing is done on the section of track without groomed tracks in the snow. The skier uses a skating motion, pushing off with the edge of the skis. This method allows the skier to make good time on the course and is generally about 8% faster over a distance than the classic method. The skis used are shorter than classical.

One classical technique of skiing is done from the sitting position called sit skiing. These skiers are unable to move out of the parallel tracks and the skier propels the sit-ski along with the specially adapted poles.

In Sun Valley Idaho the Sun Valley Adaptive Sports hold a recruitment camp each year for athletes who excel in other sports. Here they are taught how to cross country ski on a sit ski sledge. One of the coaches is Paralympic Silver Medalist Bob Balk who also claims the title to the National Champion Nordic Sit-skier.

Staff Sgt. Erik Avla was the first serviceman to be wounded in the Iraq invasion and he has found new hope at the Sun Valley facility. The director of Sun Valley Adaptive Sports , Marc Mast met Erik and he soon had Erik up on the slopes with outrigger skis and gave him a few days of instruction.

Erik stated "You balance soon begins to come back to you, the more you ski, the quicker it comes back. I couldn't believe that only nine months after my injury I was skiing again."

Wheels can be attached to the sit-ski so that dry land and gymnasium training can be carried out. Paralympics cross-country skiing is a sport where upper body training is a must. A rigorous training program is required because all of the propulsion is done only with the shoulder and arm muscles.

Paralympic Cross-Country Skiing - Sitting Category Infographic Explanation

Paralympic Cross-Country Skiing - Sitting Category Infographic Explanation - Image Courtesy of

The competitions are held over short, middle and long distances. From 2.5 to 20 kilometers. The racers start 30 seconds apart. The International Paralympic Committee makes use of the Nordic Percentage System which is a handicapping system for each category. That handicap time is added to the skiers time. The winner is the one with the lowest calculated time.

In the relay races, each team skier skies one leg of the circuit. The teams are made up from different categories that are balanced out so that each team is even starting out. This eliminates time calculations. The first team across the finish line is the winner.

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