In many areas of daily life, disability usually means limitation, but fortunately there are cool sports that you can still do. This also applies to skiing, which is an inclusive sport, just like diving or cycling. Depending on the type of disability, there are different means of transportation available for skiing on the slopes. The most common is the monoski, also called monoskibob or sit-ski.
In the case of the monoski, a shell seat made to the individual body size is attached to a frame and connected to a single ski -> hence the term "mono" ski. The sports equipment is equipped with a motorcross damper, which cushions bumps and humps on the slope. The connected ski is usually a conventional ski or racing ski, which is adapted to the weight of the mono ski and the rider. Two short ski poles, known as crutch skis, are used for additional support. At the end of the poles are "little skis" attached, which help the skier to keep his balance.
The Monoski's bucket seat is available in different seat widths of 34 - 44 cm and back heights of 25, 30, 35 and 40 cm. The seat shell is usually supplied with a splash guard. However, a leg shell is recommended as it protects the legs better from cold and shocks.
The weight of a monoski device is approx. 10 - 15 kg, depending on the manufacturer. When monoskiing, it is important that the ski has a slope edge of 1.5 - 2°, so that the ski has a delayed grip and you can drift and slide. There are also suitable devices for children, which are called Snowball and have a seat width of 28 - 32 cm.
The monoski is steered by the upper body and the turns are initiated from the shoulder or by bending the pelvis, whereby the skier's gaze is always directed downhill. For support, the skier uses the crutch skis, which serve for stabilization.
Beginners prefer the drag lifts, but with practice you can ride any chairlift.
The chairlift slowly approaches, the monoskier supports himself with the frame and shell with the help of the crutches, whereby he is supported by 2 hydraulic cylinders. It is important to ensure that you do not lose your balance due to the resulting momentum when starting up or getting into the chairlift.
Suitable for whom?
The Monoski is suitable for people with paraplegia, spina bifida, cerebral palsy (diplegia), but also for people with amputations of the lower extremities.
It is particularly important that monoskiers have good trunk stability. The function of the upper extremities and the gripping function of the hands must not be restricted and flexion of the hip and knee joints is necessary for transferring to the monoski and for riding.
Since monoskiing is a very popular winter sport, monoskiing courses are offered.
Beginners practice the transfer from the wheelchair to the monoski at the beginning. Off-piste on a relatively flat snow carpet, turning on the spot and very slight sliding are practiced. The next step in learning to monoski is gliding. Following this, the skiing apprentice is then introduced to braking. As soon as you are able to keep your balance and make the first turns on your own, you will go onto an easy slope. A mono-skier is recommended as a ski instructor, but a pedestrian should be with you to help you up if you fall over. In this way you save energy to continue skiing, because leaning up is very energy-consuming.
There are also monoski courses for advanced skiers, on the one hand they get to know new skiing areas, hone their technique and enjoy the skiing paradise with like-minded people.
Regular courses are offered in the Kaunertal valley in Austria and on the Jochgrimm in South Tyrol, among others.
TIPS FROM THE PRO
Baumi is the pro in our team when it comes to monoskiing. He has been monoskiing for many years and can therefore give beginners a few tips along the way:
- Learning to monoski means "getting up" again and again and trying to tackle the slopes again. Since skiing requires a lot of strength and balance, good preparation is important. Strength training in autumn or other sports activities help enormously to learn it easier.
- A previous skiing experience is not absolutely necessary, because the monoski is completely different to the skis used for normal skiing. The passion for sporting activity in the snow will help you carve down all the mountains.
- Unlike normal skiing, you cannot make a snow plough with the monoski, so ski with foresight on narrow downhill runs. Even on wide slopes, always take the sliding phase into account and keep as much distance as possible from the other skiers.
- Before starting in a ski resort, it is important to ask whether monoskiers are welcome here. In some ski areas, the lift operators do not want monoskiers to ride together with children in a chairlift, because the bar of the chairlift does not lock. At some lifts, only one accompanying person is allowed to ride alongside the monoskier.
- When getting off the chairlift, it is more advantageous if the monoski skier gets off first. On the one hand, the weight of the passenger keeps the chair low and the monoski skier can take up all the space when getting off.
For those who love speed, such a piece of sports equipment as the monoski is a must; the professionals at the Paralympics go at speeds of over 100 km/h during a downhill run.
By the way, the monoski has been an integral part of the Paralympics since 1988 and winter sports would be unthinkable without it.
Akira Kano's gold run at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi gives a pretty good idea of the speed and agility on the monoski.
The smooth and skilful driving of the monoski with a high paraplegia (classification LW 10-1) can be seen well in the giant slalom of Christoph Kunz.
A few impressions
Boarding the chairlift
Exit from the chairlift
Downhill Panorama Ski slope Alpe di Siusi South Tyrol
Downhill Puflatsch ski slope Alpe di Siusi South Tyrol