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Special Olympics and Alpine Skiing

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-07-07 - Alpine Skiing is an exciting winter sport that challenges an athletes coordination and ability. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World.
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The sport of Alpine Skiing made its debut as an official winter sport at the 1977 World Games.

Since that time, the number of athletes participating in the sport has grown by three-hundred percent! Alpine Skiing is an exciting winter sport that challenges an athlete's coordination and ability as they race down a mountain at speeds approaching sixty-four kilometers per hour. Approximately fifteen-thousand athletes in fifty-nations around the world compete in Alpine Skiing today.

The events associated with Alpine Skiing have increased in order to accommodate every ability and competition of interest. With three different ability levels of athletes who compete in downhill, slalom, and giant slalom, the sport is increasingly attractive to many individuals. For each of the categories of Alpine Skiing, the courses are set for novice, intermediate, and advanced ability athletes.

Athletes who are beginners often participate in the ten-meter walk, glide, or super glide events. Unified Sports allows athletes both with and without cognitive forms of disabilities to compete together. The model lets sisters and brothers, as well as peers, compete with their family members, schoolmates, or friends with a cognitive disability.

The various events involved in Special Olympics Alpine Skiing offer a number of options for athletes who wish to participate. The main point is to ensure that all participants in Special Olympics events enjoy themselves in friendly competition while following the code of conduct. The events related to Alpine Skiing fall into a couple of categories.

Modified Alpine: Athletes with physical forms of disabilities which may hinder their ability to ski down hill on traditional skis can compete in the Modified Alpine ski event. Modified skiers use a mono-ski, or similar equipment. These types of equipment allow the athlete to sit in a seat or sled and ski the course. Athletes in the event must control their own skis; they are tethered to a coach who aids them with the process of breaking at the end of their run. The coach is not permitted to assist the skier at any point during the run.

Nordic Skiing: Cross Country skiing promotes superior physical conditioning while providing the athlete with enjoyment. The winter sport is available for individuals of all ages and ability levels, requiring little more than skis, poles, boots and the desire to exercise throughout the months of winter. A number of events are available for athletes to participate in. As with every Special Olympics sport, the events associated with cross country skiing are designed to be appropriate for athletes from all ability levels. Individual events in cross country skiing range from the fifty-meter race to a ten-kilometer race.

Alpine Skiing and Training

Many skiers participate in dry-land training, which consists of cardiovascular exercises and stretching. They may also participate in on-snow training, as well as time-trials related to the process of divisioning. Athletes involved in Special Olympics Alpine Skiing are encouraged to train on their own too.

Training sessions for Alpine Skiing athletes commonly involve some essential elements. The amount of time spent on each of these elements depends upon the goal of the training session, the time of season the session is in, as well as the amount of time that is available for the particular session. The elements of training related to Alpine Skiing are ones which need to become a part of an athlete's daily training program. These elements include:

picture of an Alpine Skier

  • Warm-up
  • Previously taught skills
  • New Skills
  • Competition Experience
  • Cool-downs

Who is Eligible to Participate

All athletes, both children and adults, who are at least eight years old, and experience mental retardation, a cognitive delay, or a closely-related form of developmental disability are eligible to participate. Children who are ages six or seven may participate in Special Olympics training; however, they may not compete. Athletes who are eligible have functional limitations in both adaptive skills and general learning, which typically includes all individuals who experience combination deaf-blindness, mental retardation, traumatic brain injury, autism, and the majority of persons with cerebral palsy and specific learning disabilities.

Every person who meets the eligibility requirements has to register in order to participate through submission of the following:

A completed Athlete Registration Form: The Athlete Registration Form contains medical information and certification. The form must be signed by adult athlete, parent or guardian and by a medical professional.

A completed Athlete Release Form: The Athlete Release Form must be signed by an adult athlete or by the parent/guardian of a minor athlete concerning medical matters and permissions concerning publicity.

If applicable: A special release form for athletes or parents concerning the potential risks of Atlanto-axial instability in athletes with Down syndrome.

Special Olympics Alpine Skiing athletes, through registration with Special Olympics, also agree to abide by the Athlete Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct contains a number of points regarding the conduct of athletes as they participate in Special Olympics sports. Athletes, in accordance with the Code of Conduct, shall:

  • Adhere to the Athlete Code of Conduct.
  • Maintain high standards of moral and ethical conduct that includes self-control and responsible behavior. An athlete should consider the physical and emotional well being of others and display courtesy and good manners.
  • Avoid profane or abusive language and disruptive behavior including behavior that is dangerous to self or others including acts of violence, physical or sexual abuse, or harassment.
  • Abide by the rules of competition especially the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules.
  • Abstain from transport, storage, and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and/or illegal substances when participating in any Special Olympics sponsored or sanctioned activities. These activities include, but are not limited to, training/practice sessions and competition events.
  • Abstain from all illegal activity.
  • Honor the Special Olympics Oath.

Special Olympics has the discretion as to any disciplinary actions that may be taken should an athlete violate the Code of Conduct. An action that is taken is done so with the good faith belief of Special Olympics that the actions is appropriate. Any action that is taken may be appealed. When an athlete has violated the Code of Conduct, the following disciplinary actions may be taken:

  • Issue a warning
  • Place the individual on probation
  • Suspension from further participation in any Special Olympics Maryland programs or activities
  • Expulsion from further participation in any Special Olympics Maryland programs or activities




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