Visually impaired athletes classified as completely blind must wear blacked out goggles and stay with their guide at all times. Athletes with limited vision do not need to wear googles and are free to leave their guide.
The Nordic sit ski shall consist of a sitting device with a fixed seat, which is not adjustable during the race, mounted on a pair of cross country skis or rolling devices (summer competition). No springs or flexible articulations are allowed in any segment of the sit ski, including the connection with the skis. The connection with the skis must be rigid.
The maximum allowable height difference between the point of contact of the buttock with the seat and the top of the ski is 40cm (including the cushion segment without load).
Nordic ski training concepts, skills, and training sessions designed for adaptive athletes are identical to training for able bodied skiers. Just like any beginner skier, adaptive athletes may need to make some adjustments in which trails they ski on, staying away from any steep hills or technical corners. When exploring new trails, it is recommended that another skier accompany a sit skier to make sure the terrain is appropriate. One can assist a sit skier up a hill by pushing from behind, but keep in mind you must also feel comfortable helping them get down the hill on the other side. Start your new athletes in an open space and allow them to practice their climbing, descending, and cornering in a safe area. As with any skier, falling is a part of the learning process and important one, too. Do what you can to ensure this learning process is done in a “safe area” (i.e. there are no cliffs to fall off of or big trees that are in direct line with where they might be likely to fall). These athletes, like all others on the team, will learn their limits and continually raise their level of expertise.
Many adaptive athletes have injuries that inhibit their bodies’ ability to regulate temperature. Be sure to take extra care that the athlete is wearing the appropriate clothing and does not have exposed skin. Encourage fellow skiers to keep an eye out for one another, letting a teammate know if they have an area of skin that becomes exposed during their workout.
- Standing athletes can be fully integrated without any changes necessary by any party.
- Athletes with visual impairments can also be fully integrated and should be allowed to have their guide race in front of them, without being charged for a race entry.
- Sit skiers may need an alternative race course. Depending on the course and the format of the race this could be done in conjunction with the standing race or as a stand alone competition on a course designed for sit skiers.
- Please refer to page 15 for more resources for race organizers working to integrate adaptive Nordic skiers into events.
We recommend each State High School Coaches Association to come up with their own guidelines for the integration of adaptive skiers into high school programs, since every state has their own unique point system and State qualifying standards. We encourage each State to create a integrated system that includes the following three concepts:
- Open all high school Nordic programs and races to adaptive athletes
- Create criteria for earning a high school letter in the sport
- Create criteria for qualifying for regional and state meets
Making your training venue/race more accessible to athletes who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices will also make it a more spectator friendly event. Most accessibility improvements do not require major infrastructure changes, but simply require coaches/race organizers to look at the layout and flow of the event and adjust as needed.
- Accessible Restrooms: make sure people who use wheelchairs have a clean restroom option at your venue. It is important that these are accessible from a wheelchair and do not require access by skiing or walking.
- Accessing Trails: how will sit skiers get from where they park or the lodge to groomed trails? Make sure it is possible to wheel to. If not, explore the possibility of grooming the trail a bit longer to bridge the gap. Other options may be shoveling out some snow to allow easier access to the trail or to create a snow bridge to cover some bare ground to make it sit skiable.
- Start & Finish: is it possible to get to and from the start/finish area either in a wheelchair or sit ski? If your race is point to point and you have wheelchair users or athletes with prosthetic legs they remove when they ski, make sure you or the athlete has a plan for getting their wheelchair/legs to the finish. Most importantly, communication and expectations should be clear on both sides so athletes, coaches, and race crew all know the plan.
- Lodge: if you have a lodge, is it wheelchair accessible? If not, are there modifications you might be able to complete to improve the accessibility? Sometimes a simple ramp will do the trick. Handles or rails will make it more wheelchair friendly. Consider making it permanent so wheelchair users can access your lodge and get to skiing all the time.