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In the adaptive world, mono-skiing has a very different meaning than the able-bodied ski technique of the same name.

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A mono-ski as demonstrated by Uschi.

Able-bodied people commonly use the word mono-ski to describe a wide ski with two forward-facing bindings mounted side by side. In adaptive skiing, a mono ski is a piece of sit-down equipment that enables people with disabilities affecting their legs to ski sitting down in a molded seating apparatus, or "bucket," similar to a motorcycle sidecar.

The mono-ski is the most difficult piece of sit-down equipment to use because it requires the greatest balance, strength, and coordination. However, it also allows the skier to perform at a higher level than a bi-ski.

People with the following disabilities are likely candidates for mono-ski experience: brain trauma, cerebral palsy, double amputee, neuromuscular diseases, post-polio, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, spinal cord injury.

Within the mono-ski category, there are dozens of designs. At least ten different mono-ski manufacturers sell products in the United States, and a myriad of homemade mono-skis styles exist. CDA has Yetti and Mogul Master mono-skis for its clients. We can provide you with complete ski instruction in one of our mono-skis or, if you already own a mono-ski, you can bring your own. If you don't want any instruction we can provide you with a guide who will assist you in loading/offloading the lift and will stay with you to assist when needed.

Lesson Progression (summary):

At the start of the lesson we take time to introduce the equipment to you by explaining and demonstrating the following:
  • Functional aspects of the mono-ski and its safety features.
  • How the seat and straps allow a snug, supportive, yet comfortable fit.
  • The purpose and function of the suspension.
  • The lift-loading mechanism.

After you become familiar with the equipment, we go to a flat, uncrowded area with good snow cover. This is were we conduct a number of flatland drills. These drills will help you learn to feel stable in the mono-ski, learn practical methods for balancing and moving around, how to use outriggers, slide on the snow, and learn safety and chairlift procedures. At some point during flatland drills you will probably fall. We will use this opportunity to teach you how to get back up.

Once you begin feeling comfortable with the ski, we will begin sliding. At this stage we may push you up the hill (or have you propel yourself with your outriggers) and make some "star" turns on a way down. We will focus on an athletic position, dynamic balance, proper positioning of the outrigger, and the importance of keeping the head up. This will be the time to experience the feeling of sliding on snow on a gentle incline.

Once you know how to control speed with the outriggers, we will begin introducing direction changes. You will be ready to ride a chairlift when you can control speed using the outriggers and can turn to stop. From there we will advance into tackling linked turns and series of intermediate ski techniques.

    Mono-Ski Video

Watch Jim mono-ski during CDA's 2004 Ski Challenge.

[Video size: 4 MB]

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Common features of mono-skis:

Seat. The seat may be made of fiberglass, orthopedic foam, plastic or metal. Its purpose is to affix you, the skier, to the ski so that any movement you make will be transmitted through the seat to the ski. The seat will hold you in a dynamic position that allows you to use your own musculature to ski effectively.

Foot tray. The foot tray provides a platform that secures and protects the lower legs and feet. The feet and lower legs attach to the foot tray with straps. Foot tray is adjustable to accommodate a range of skiers with different leg lengths.

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Uschi demonstrates mono-skiing.
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Uschi demonstrates mono-skiing.
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Uschi demonstrates mono-skiing.

Suspension. Mono-ski suspension, which consists of a spring or a shock absorber, serves a dual purpose. First, it reduces the amount of jarring you experience as you ski over uneven terrain. Second, the suspension system keeps the ski in contact with the snow for maximum control.

Linkage. The linkage connects the seat to the ski.

Binding. The binding consists of the parts that connect the linkage to the ski. This is not a typical alpine binding as it is uniquely developed for each type of mono-ski.

Ski. The ski is usually a standard alpine ski. Durability is an essential feature.

Knee bar. The knee bar attaches to the suspension system. It provides support under the knees and prevents legs from hyperextending.

Lift-loading mechanism. The lift-loading mechanism is a system of levers and swing arms that mechanically raise the mono-ski into a position suitable for loading onto the chairlift.

Outriggers. Although not part of the mono-ski itself, outriggers—which consist of a short type of Canadian crutch with a miniature ski on the end—are necessary accessories for skiing in a mono-ski. Sit-down skiers use outriggers for a number of purposes, including static and dynamic balance, braking, and propulsion. They also help the mono-skier perform pressure and edging movements and generate rotary movement. With our outriggers, the skis can be flipped up so that they function like crutches.

Evacuation system. The evacuation system is hardware that allows ski patrollers to evacuate the mono-ski from a chairlift using standard ski patrol techniques.

Retention strap. The retention strap consists of a piece of webbing attached to the mono-ski, with a non-locking carabiner on the other end. Once the skier is on the chairlift, the strap is looped around the chair and clipped back to itself to keep the mono-ski and the skier firmly attached to the chair.

Tether. The tether is a skier "leash" that allows us to help you control the mono-ski.

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Jim, a mono-skier, on a Giant Slalom course.
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Jim, a mono-skier, on a GS course.
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Pro Mono-skier

Mono-skier with the US Disabled Ski Team.