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Board Buddy

Jack and Jeff demonstrate the use of a "board buddy" with Brianna.

Athletes with disabilities have found success in many winter sports, including downhill skiing, nordic skiing and hockey. Now, kids and adults with disabilities are also experiencing the joys of snowboarding.

What is adaptive snowboarding? Some adaptive riders use outriggers to help balance themselves while they board, but many don't use any special equipment. Also bindings on the board can be moved to help with balance. Participants include riders with spinal cord injuries, amputations, visual impairments, head injuries, multiple sclerosis and other conditions. Improved balance and increased leg and trunk strength are some of the benefits of riding.

As with adaptive skiing, a wide variety of specialized equipment is used for adaptive snowboarding. Choosing from among these tools is dictated by a rider's strengths and weaknesses. We use these aids merely to assist a rider and not to make him or her dependent on them. The goal is to develop independence from accessory equipment through effective riding.

The following list of props and methods is by no means comprehensive but is a starting point to help us provide you the best opportunity for learning and progressing:

Ski Poles - These tools can be used to aid balance while standing, walking, and climbing and can be tapped together to help visually impaired riders. An instructor can assist alignment and turning by using poles to "connect" with the student—front hand to front hand and back hand to back hand. This method provides good control of speed, turn shape, timing, and moderate edging.

Outriggers - This versatile tool can be used to aid balance while standing, walking, and climbing by flipping the tip into the crutch mode, and while riding by flipping the tip into the ski mode. Use of one or two outriggers will depend on the needs of the student.

Bamboo Pole - A bamboo pole can also aid balance while standing, walking, climbing, and riding. While sliding, the pole can be tipped to the inside of the turn and used to provide a focal point for the turn.

Horse and Buggy - This consists of a bicycle inner tube wrapped around the rider's hips and attached with carabiners to rigid (PVC) poles, tethers, or hula-hoop. This allows the hips to be guided in the intended direction and can be used to control turn shape, speed, and timing.

HulaHoopTM or Wheelchair Push Rim - Use of a rigid hoop provides a way to connect the instructor and student without being hands-on.

Board Buddy - This piece of equipment is essentially a wind-surfing boom with a harness inside that attaches to the boom at four points.

Tethers - These consist of webbing straps attached to either the rider's hips or the board. Using either method, the student maintains balance and creates edging and pressure forces independent of the instructor, although the instructor can provide rotary input.

Mono-board - This tool is a mono-ski bucket attached to a snowboard. Movement plans for this method can be adapted from those in mono-skiing. Mono-boarding differs from most snowboarding in the sense that the rider faces forward in the equipment instead of having a toeside/heelside orientation on the board.


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Adaptive Snowboarding

Becoming familiar with a "board buddy."
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Adaptive Snowboarding

Outfitting a student with a "board buddy."
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Adaptive Snowboarding

Todd tackles a slalom course.


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Member School of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors

Member School of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors,
Rocky Mountain Division.
PSIA-RM web site: http://www.psia-rm.org