Getting Ready For Adaptive Ski-biking...
You've read the stories, seen the pictures, and maybe even bought a ski-bike. Think you're ready to use the ski-bike as an adaptive device? Before you show up on your local mountain with your ski-bike in tow, you may have some homework to do before you go.
First, does the ski area allow ski-bikes on the hill for the able-bodied? If they do, you are ready to go. Feel free to request a lesson with either their adaptive program or their regular ski school.
If the ski area does not currently allow ski-bikes, you will need to ask them (politely) for permission to use the ski-bike as an adaptive device.
After reading the articles on this web site about using the ski-bike as an adaptive device, you know how well it can work for skiers with a variety of disabilities. Personally, I have taught or skied with adaptive skiers with a number of different disabilities (amputees, multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, and others). It is the easiest and most quickly learned skiing device that I have ever used or taught.
However, your ski area may not yet know how great the ski-bike could work for you or others as an adaptive device. You can copy some of the articles from this site to help them learn about its adaptive use. You may also need to formally ask that they modify their policy to allow you to use it on their mountain as an adaptive device.
To allow your ski area an adequate time to consider your request, I would suggest sending them the following a couple weeks before your arrival in writing:
1. A letter from you requesting that they allow your use of the ski-bike as an adaptive device
2. A copy of the PSIA article from this site
3. Vail's letter announcing their acceptance of the ski-bike as an adaptive device
4. Disabled Sports USA letter supporting the use of the ski-bike adaptively
5. Note from your doctor, physical therapist, or ski instructor stating that you are a candidate to use the ski-bike
Send your request to the head of their adaptive ski program as well as the head of the ski area.
To assist you, we have provided sample letters that helped me get permission to use the ski-bike adaptively in Colorado. Feel free to copy any other information from this site that you feel could help you.
The language in the letters was carefully chosen to help the ski area understand how the ski-bike can be effective for the skier with a disability, and to remind them that the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires them to make reasonable accommodations for skiers with disabilities.
With a friendly and informed approach, I have been welcomed as an adaptive ski-biker at every ski area that I have approached. This list now includes Vail, Loveland, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Jackson Hole, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Arapaho Basin, Durango Mountain, and more!
This information is provided in the hopes that you can use it to have as much fun on the hill that I have. Now it's your turn…
Jeffrey J. Cain MD
Double below knee amputee
November 28, 2001 To: Andy Daly, President / Vail Resorts / P.O. Box 7 / Vail, CO 81658
Dear Mr. Daly:
I am writing you today to request a modification of one of your ski areas' policies in order to allow me use of your ski area.
Five years ago, I acquired a disability that substantiality impairs my ability to stand and walk. Prior to my accident, I was an active skier at your area, and with your help hope to return.
I am requesting the reasonable accommodation that you modify your mountains' policy in order to allow my use of a snow-bike (skibob) as an adaptive device. This device is necessary to allow me to fully utilize your services, facilities, privileges, and accommodations.
As you are certainly aware, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires you to make reasonable modifications to your policies, practices, and procedures for persons with disabilities.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Your prompt reply within the next two weeks would be appreciated.
Jeffrey J. Cain MD
Cc: Colorado Cress-Disabilities Coalition, Legal Affairs
Bill Jensen, Vail CO
To: Ken Abrahamson, General Manager / Loveland Ski Area / PO Box 899 / Georgetown, CO 80444
Re: Snowbike as Adaptive Device For Jeffrey J. Cain
This letter is written to support my patient Jeff Cain's request to use a snowbike as an adaptive ski device in your ski area. It is my medical opinion that the snowbike is the most appropriate adaptive devise for Jeff to participate in mountain winter recreation and is superior to the sit ski for him.
I have been J eff s personal family physician for the past ten years including the times before, during, and after his accident. Five years ago Jeff was involved in an airplane crash and suffered multiple injuries. Included in his injuries were the loss of one leg below the knee and severe crush injuries to the remaining foot and ankle. These injuries limit his ability to stand and walk because of pain and fatigue, predominantly from his remaining leg. His primary limitation is weight bearing through his damaged foot and leg. He is able to walk approximately one or two blocks and can stand 10 to l5 minutes.
Jeff does, however, have proprioception in his remaining leg and good control both with this leg and the prosthesis. He uses both a wheelchair and bicycle as adaptive devices. Jeff is able to bicycle well with good balance and technical skills both on and off road. He is able to bicycle because body weight is primarily carried through the hands and buttocks, resulting in minimal weight bearing through his legs.
The most appropriate device for Jeff to use for adaptive skiing would be one that best utilizes his abilities with the least amount of limitation. Primarily, it will be most helpful for him to maximally use his legs without having him stand for long periods or need to significantly weight bear .He should be able to use his legs for activities that require balance or "touch down" activities.
The snowbike allows use of his legs with minimal weight bearing and standing, yet allows him the "unweighted" use of his legs, an ideal situation for Jeff.
In addition, Jeff has taken lessons with a snowbike and has shown that he can operate the devise safely and independently in an environment with other skiers and snowboarders.
In contrast, the sit ski restrains his legs, not allowing their use, and is a more restrictive device. It is my understanding that the ADA allows the most appropriate adaptive device and does not require the most restrictive. Though Jeff could undoubtedly learn to use the sit ski, it is my medical opinion that the snowbike is the most appropriate for his physical skills.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.
Sincerely, Timothy Dudley MD
UCHSC Family Medicine Residency Program
A.F. Williams Family Medicine Center