The sit-ski is a device for athletes with more severe lower limb impairments (spinal cord injuries or double amputations) designed to enable wheelchair users to take part in skiing as both a leisure and competitive activity. Sit-skiing is used to great effect by charities such as Back-Up to assist wheelchair users building their fitness and confidence levels and to encourage a greater level of independence.
A sit-ski consists of a moulded seat mounted on a metal frame with a suspension system beneath the seat to maximise ski-snow contact. Sit-skis can be mounted on a single ski (called a mono-ski) or on two skis (a dual-ski). Athletes use two short outriggers to help with balance and turning.
The IPC rules and regulations for Alpine Skiing state that this equipment meets the following requirements:
- A sit-ski consists of a moulded seat mounted on a metal frame.
- A suspension system beneath the seat eases riding on uneven terrain and helps in turning by maximizing ski-snow contact.
- A metal or plastic block in the shape of a boot sole is the base that clicks into the ski’s binding.
- A sit-ski can be used in Uni-Ski or Dual-Ski.
- A sit-ski needs a braking device on both sides of the seat.
- Arm crutches with ski tips attached.
- The system can flip out to allow the ski attachment to rise vertically to be used as a normal crutch.
You will see sit-ski’s in use in a number of events during Sochi 2014 including the downhill, super-G, slalom, biathlon and cross-country.
For a glimpse of what to expect here is a video of Sean Rose taking part in the Downhill in Turin 2006, and for an idea of what the future might hold for Olympic sit-skiing then watch this video of Sean in the 2012 X-Games.