Do you want to hit the slopes this season but don’t know where to start? We talked to Snow Sports New Zealand’s Adaptive Manager, Jane Stevens, to find out about skiing or snowboarding with an impairment.
Adaptive Snow Sports encourages people of all abilities to get involved in snow sports and works to remove barriers by running special adaptive programmes, training adaptive instructors and volunteers and ensuring gear and assistance is available around New Zealand.
“Snow is a great equaliser,” says Jane. “Every day I’m amazed by the abilities of people using our adaptive gear. If you love the mountains and want to get out with your family and friends and have a great time, then we can help you do that.”
Adaptive skiing has been around since the 1970s, but an increasing number of people with disabilities are now getting involved as more programmes are developed and volunteers trained to offer support.
“We are working with the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation at the moment to further develop our volunteer networks in the North Island to provide even more support to adaptive snow sports,” says Jane.
The volunteers get a lot out of taking part as well.
“They are able to access a huge amount of training and we can help them on a pathway towards becoming an adaptive instructor – not to mention all the fun they get out of being on the slopes and supporting another person.”
What gear is available?
All commercial ski fields have adaptive equipment which you can hire, including sit skis and equipment for amputees and visual impairments.
What about instruction?
Dedicated adaptive skiing programmes are offered at most New Zealand ski fields. In the North Island you can participate at Whakapapa, Turoa and Snow Planet. In the South Island, check out Mt Hutt, Cardrona and The Remarkables.
Outside the dedicated programmes, people can still book in with an adaptive ski instructor any time and often there are also volunteers available to accompany skiers outside of lessons, to help with accessing the lifts and offering general support if needed.
How do I make the first step to getting on the slopes?
- Sign up for an adaptive ski or snowboard lesson at your local resort
- Get involved with your local disability or snow sports group
- Come along to a national snow sports event like a Have a Go Day or Adaptive Snow Sports Festival
- Organise a trip with your school, group or organisation
- Become a member of Snow Sports NZ to take advantage of discounted lift tickets and other benefits
If you want to speak to someone about your options, what equipment would suit you and the support available, please give the Snow Sports NZ office a call on 03 443 4085 – they would be happy to get you started.
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