Colorado powder pulls people from all over the world to its mountain resorts for skiing and snowboarding. While visits to Colorado ski resorts has been down for a couple of years, ski resort operators are optimistic that conditions are good enough and deals plentiful enough this season to attract even those who are watching spending closely in this tough economy.
People with disabilities come from everywhere, too, for great Colorado skiing. Nearly every major ski resort in the state offers adaptive skiing and snowboarding, a fast growing approach to making winter sports accessible to people with disabilities. Adaptive ski/snowboard programs provide specialty equipment that accommodates a variety of physical conditions, offer certified instructors, and, in some cases, organize events for the competitive skiers.
Kelly Mixon, a writer for Disaboom.com offers a useful and thorough outline of the types of equipment available and a suggested match with certain disabilities in her article, “Adaptive Skiing More Available for People with Disabilities.” She also provides important tips about clothing and price ranges for various types of equipment.
Winter Park, Colorado is home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), a 501 C 3 non-profit founded in 1970. NSCD, one of the most well-known outdoor therapeutic recreation organizations in the world, offers winter and summer sports programs, its own adaptive equipment lab, and specially trained instructors and 750 volunteers. With a mission “to positively impact the lives of people with any physical or mental challenge through quality adaptive recreation programs in over 20 sports,” NSCD provides services to children and adults of all skiing and snowboarding ability levels. Participants qualify if they have an enduring disability. NSCD also accepts donations and sponsorships as part of its fundraising efforts.
Operations Manager at NSCD, Beth Fox , explained that housing adaptive ski equipment on site offers NSCD advantages over some of the area resorts whose inventory is limited, primarily for economic reasons. Among its significant inventory, NSCD has 45 pieces of sit-ski equipment, for example, which costs approximately $4000 for each basic unit, and has to be replaced about every three years. Corporate sponsors and other funding sources help underwrite eighty percent of these costs. For-profit ski resorts are required to accommodate skiers with disabilities within 72 hours of a request for equipment and instruction, according to Fox. Ben Roberts, Education Manager at Professional Ski Instructors of America, adds that Colorado does a sound job providing instruction and equivalent product to skiers and snowboarders with disabilities.
The Winter Park Resort contracts with NSCD to provide its adaptive program. Eldora Mountain Resort has a special recreation program on site, although it is a separate non-profit operation unaffiliated with Eldora Mountain Resort. Skiers and snowboarders are urged to contact preferred resorts in advance to ensure that instructors and equipment are available. Fox suggests planning ahead for visiting NSCD, too, in spite of their large inventory of equipment and instructors on hand. There are days, she says, when they are completely booked.
Read more about professional instructors and volunteers who specialize in adaptive skiing and snowboarding in Kathryn’s companion article as Denver Disability Examiner.
Nate Lind is Denver Ski and Snow Resort Examiner and offers fresh reporting and commentary on conditions and other “must know” facts about Colorado powder.
Kathryn writes and speaks on disabilities, mobility and independence, senior care, and caregiving. Contact Kathryn with suggestions for future topics. Subscribe to or comment on Kathryn’s articles by choosing the appropriate button at the top of the article.