Adaptive Snowboarding and Other Winter Sports

Guest blog post by Pete Benda

Originally appeared as a featured story on Daddies Board Shop, Inc.’s website on January 29, 2014.

Whether you were born with a disability or received it after an injury, it should never prevent you from enjoying life and the excitement of sports. Sports don’t just benefit your health; those who participate on a team, or individual sports, experience better self-esteem, and when a survey was completed for those who participated in Disabled Sports USA programs, the results were astounding. Simply being a part of something may give you a better chance of staying physically active, feeling more fulfilled, socializing more, and create a more positive outlook on life. With the constant advances in technology and equipment, there are many opportunities for those with disabilities to get involved with sports, including snowboarding, skiing, sled hockey, and many more.

Adaptive Sports for Those with Disabilities

From soccer and basketball to more extreme sports, like snowboarding, skiing, and dirt biking, there is something to fit everyone’s style. You don’t have to climb up the cliff of a steep mountain, although it is possible, in order to enjoy adaptive sports. Some like more calming low-risk sports, while others starve for the thrill of adventure. Whether it is a risky sport or not, competing will get your blood-pumping as you attain new goals, score points, and battle for the win. One of the most popular places to compete at is The Special Olympics. Having been around for more than 40 years, it has now grown to offer over 32 individual and team sports. The joy teens and adults experience from achieving goals while doing what they love is what the Olympics is all about.


There are hundreds of people on snowy mountains around the world who enjoy snowboarding, despite having a disability. As the equipment and experience improve, it continues to grow in popularity and can be done on modified equipment, but the same elements of cruising down the hill remain. In many ways, it involves more technique and strength; and you better believe pipelines, jumps, and shredders are still a piece of the fun. Snowboarding is still in the beginning stages, but is a great way to put test your limits while enjoying the outdoors.


Adaptive skiing reaches a range of disabilities, making it possible for thousands to experience the rush of swooshing gently down a hill. Skiing is great for those looking to try new things in a safe way. With many styles and equipment, you can easily balance yourself to safely get down the hill. The first method of skiing is called four-track skiing. It works great for people with Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, or double amputees. The four skis give support and balance, but also the ability to control, maneuver and turn. Three-track skiing is usually used for those with a single amputee. Their leg is in the ski with two side skis anchored down for balance. Mon-Skiing is a sled-like chair with a single ski underneath it. The skier uses their core strength to control turning. If you enjoy gliding and working your way across snow, but aren’t a big fan of soaring down hills, cross-country skiing is a great fit. Using the type of ski system that works for you, you use poles and strength to cruise above the snow.

Sled Hockey

If you have never heard of sled hockey before, it might sound a little strange; the game is just as fun and competitive as hockey, but instead of skies it is played on sleds. The sled is built to hold the legs in place while the body sits in a bucket seat. Those with double-amputees will have a shorter sled, giving them quicker-shorter turns. Another big difference is the sticks. Instead of one stick, everybody has two. Both sticks have a metal pick on the heel to help propel them across the ice.

Additional Sports and Information

There are many sports to keep you entertained and in shape every season of the year. Whether it is in an indoor gym or outside on the street, wheelchair basketball is a fun way to enjoy your favorite game while getting cardio exercise. In the summer, make a splash with adaptive water-skiing, wakeboarding, sailing, or jet skiing. If you enjoy extreme sports like snowboarding, then you might want to try your hand at dirt biking or four wheeling. With a little research, you can find organizations, classes, and teams in your area so you can get involved in the game you love.