It’s white out time!

Snow Sport Corey Peters

New Zealand Paralympic ski racer Corey Peters hits the slopes at Turoa Ski Field on a sit ski

Do you want to hit the slopes this season but don’t know where to start? We talked to Snow Sports New Zealand’s Adaptive Manager, Jane Stevens, to find out about skiing or snowboarding with an impairment.

Adaptive Snow Sports encourages people of all abilities to get involved in snow sports and works to remove barriers by running special adaptive programmes, training adaptive instructors and volunteers and ensuring gear and assistance is available around New Zealand.

“Snow is a great equaliser,” says Jane. “Every day I’m amazed by the abilities of people using our adaptive gear. If you love the mountains and want to get out with your family and friends and have a great time, then we can help you do that.”

Adaptive skiing has been around since the 1970s, but an increasing number of people with disabilities are now getting involved as more programmes are developed and volunteers trained to offer support.

“We are working with the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation at the moment to further develop our volunteer networks in the North Island to provide even more support to adaptive snow sports,” says Jane.

The volunteers get a lot out of taking part as well.

“They are able to access a huge amount of training and we can help them on a pathway towards becoming an adaptive instructor – not to mention all the fun they get out of being on the slopes and supporting another person.”

What gear is available?

All commercial ski fields have adaptive equipment which you can hire, including sit skis and equipment for amputees and visual impairments.

What about instruction?

Dedicated adaptive skiing programmes are offered at most New Zealand ski fields. In the North Island you can participate at Whakapapa, Turoa and Snow Planet. In the South Island, check out Mt Hutt, Cardrona and The Remarkables.

Outside the dedicated programmes, people can still book in with an adaptive ski instructor any time and often there are also volunteers available to accompany skiers outside of lessons, to help with accessing the lifts and offering general support if needed.

How do I make the first step to getting on the slopes?

If you want to speak to someone about your options, what equipment would suit you and the support available, please give the Snow Sports NZ office a call on 03 443 4085 – they would be happy to get you started.

Want to know more?

Tips from a snowboarding pro

Snow Sport Carl Murphy

Para-snowboarder Carl Murphy

Starting out in the snow? Here are some tips from one of New Zealand’s top para-snowboarders and Paralympian, Carl Murphy. Carl is a below-the-knee amputee and already working towards achieving Gold at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Snowboarding.

“Snowboarding for the first time? Awesome. It’s a long time since I began snowboarding but I do remember the feeling. Remember that everyone starts somewhere. You will fall over a lot – and I mean a lot!! But keep getting up and trying again.

“I try not to think about my disability as a disability in any situation, sporting or otherwise. Rather, it’s the fact that I can do everything everyone else can – but maybe in a slightly different way.

“Attitude counts for a lot when you are faced with obstacles. You can either just give up and say it’s too hard, or you can have the mind set that you can achieve it if you put your mind to it.

“I see a lot of disabled people in snowboarding with various physical impairments that make the most of what they have and what they can do. Focus on the controllable not the uncontrollable!

“Not all sports are for everyone. Just remember the main thing is getting out and giving it a go and you will no doubt have a great time in the process. You may just surprise yourself and become one of the next top NZ Winter Paralympians!”