9 Places for Adaptive Winter Sports

Blog: Winter Sports

If the weather outside is frightful, it might be the right time to try adaptive winter sports such as Alpine (downhill) and Nordic (cross-country) skiing; snowboarding; and snowshoeing.

Adaptive winter sports originated in the 1940s when German and Austrian soldiers used skiing as a means of rehabilitation for their injuries. In 1976, the sport became part of the winter Paralympics scheduled this year from March 4 to March 13.

In recent years, adaptive winter sports have become increasingly popular and adapted ski and snowboarding instruction is available at many ski resorts. Adapted skiing and snowboarding use a variety of specialized equipment to give skiers and snowboarders with disabilities the support they need to enjoy the thrill of the sports.

Winter sports can be expensive but don’t let cost be a deterrent. There are many organizations such as the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Double H Ranch willing to foot the bill if you qualify.

Here’s a rundown of what’s available in various parts of country. Note: All these programs observe COVID-19 safety precautions.

1. New England Disabled Sports (NEDS)
With locations at Loon Mountain Ski Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and at the Bretton Woods Ski Resort at Omni Mount Washington Resort, NEDS is a nonprofit organization founded in 1987. The organization has grown by leaps and bounds (pun intended) and offers instruction in Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Rental equipment is available and lessons are by appointment.

2. Double H Ranch
Founded by actor Paul Newman and philanthropist Charles R. Wood, Double H is a free adaptive ski and snowboarding program for children ages 6-16 with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, located in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Candidates must apply online and although it’s too late for this season, why not investigate this awesome opportunity for winter 2023?

3. United States Adaptive Recreation Center
Located at Bear Mountain, California, in the San Bernardino State Forest, USARC offers individualized instruction in adaptive skiing and snowboarding. Prior to beginning their instruction, each student is assessed by a highly trained teacher who determines what type of adaptive skiing or snowboarding is appropriate for the student and then outfits them with the appropriate gear to ensure safety.

4. Achieve Tahoe
At Achieve Tahoe, individuals of all ages and abilities can learn to ski and snowboard. The program is located at Alpine Meadows Resort in Alpine Meadows, California. Individuals who can demonstrate financial need may receive scholarships through Achieve Tahoe’s Katherine Hayes Rodriguez Scholarship Fund.

5. Beaver Creek Adaptive Program
Part of the Vail Resort company located in the Colorado Rockies, Beaver Creek offers individualized lessons with professional instructors. Partial scholarships are available through the nonprofit organization accessunbound.org.

6. Telluride Adaptive Sports Program
Telluride offers adaptive skiing and snowboarding lessons for individuals with all types of disabilities. The program also has special weeklong camps for people with disabilities, including the Disabled Veterans Winter Adventure Week from January 31 to February 4; and the Expand Your Horizons Ski Camp from February 28 to March 4.

7. Liberty Mountain
Located on the Pennsylvania/Maryland border, Liberty Mountain ski resort has been the host site for the Blue Ridge Adaptive Snow Sports (BRASS) program for many years. BRASS’s mission is to enhance life for individuals with disabilities through winter sports.

8. National Ability Center
At the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah, you can enjoy downhill and cross-country adapted skiing as well as adapted sled hockey, rock climbing, equestrian, aquatics, archery and cycling. Prices are reasonable but you must become a member — it’s $20 for an individual and $50 for a family. Since NAC is a nonprofit, additional costs are relatively inexpensive and scholarships are available.

9. Sunday River Resort in Bethel, Maine, is host to Maine Adaptive, a program that provides over 1,800 free standard and adaptive lessons in skiing, snowboarding and snow shoeing every season. The program, open to adults and children with disabilities ages 4 and up, also offers skiers with disabilities who need it – free weather appropriate clothing and equipment. Instruction is provided by specially trained volunteers.