What is adaptive Skiing all about?
Adaptive skiing makes this winter recreational sport available to all persons, including people with mobility impairments and mental and cognitive impairments. This is accomplished through adaptations to equipment and/or teaching methods. According to the PSIA Adaptive manual of 1997, “adaptive ski lessons encompass much more than learning how to turn left and right. For the individual encumbered on earth by a physical or mental impairment that may make mobility difficult, the act of skiing becomes a rite of passage. This passage allows skiers to do something they never thought they could do, and perhaps do it extraordinarily well. It allows them to recreate with their family and friends. It allows them to be a part of a world that believes there is something more to life than work and rehabilitation”.
Historically, the sport of disabled skiing was created by wars and the resulting rehabilitation centers. German and Austrian mountain troops during World Warr II wanted to heal fast and get back to their jobs – Skiing. In Switzerland underarm crutches were used and soon discarded. In 1941 a German soldier named Franz Wendel had his leg amputated from wounds suffered during the war. Two years later he created a pair of crutches with “short skis” attached to them, enabling him to “crutch ski”.
News of the sport of handicap skiing spread by word of mouth to Austria where Sepp “Peppi” Zicknagel, a double amputee became a certified ski instructor at the famous Kitzbuhel ski school in Austria. In 1942 he persuaded the ski association to finance a division for handicapped skiing, and in 1947 over one hundred amputees took part in the annual races in Badgastein. Meanwhile, both Europeans and Americans began developing rehabilitation programs at the military hospitals to encourage amputees to become involved with skiing.