~ After a friend and my sister in law called our attention to the article about snow bikes in the Sunday Inquirer, my wife and I read it on line here in Montana at Big Sky Ski Resort. We want to mention that it's added years of skiing for skiers who've had to give up skiing because of back problems or other conditions that affect one's ability to stand for a period of time. My wife suffers from degenerative disk disease, including scoliosis resulting from two compressed vertebrae. For mobility, she uses a walker and canes for support. We've been skiing for 18 years, and the last couple of years after her retirement from teaching, skiing has been increasingly difficult, to the point that it looked like she might have to give up skiing soon.
~ Last winter at Telluride and Durango the adaptive staff at both places introduced her to the ski-bike as a possible solution. It was so great that she bought her own through the help of the Director of the Adaptive Program at Vail. The handle bars of the snow bike provides support like her walker, with the foot skis used for turning and braking. For both of us, this ski bike is a miracle, and is going to add years to our skiing life, as she biked this winter at Copper Mountain, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge, in Colorado, and Heavenly Valley at Tahoe in Calif. With special permission from the lift managements and/or adaptive ski offices, she snow-biked at the following ski resorts: Steamboat Springs, Colo., Snowbird in Utah, and Mammoth Lakes and Squaw Valley, Calif. After spending the week at Big Sky, we will be at Jackson Hole, Wyo., where she again obtained permission to use the ski-bike as an adaptive device in accordance with the Americans for Disabilities Act.
~ At those ski resorts that do not normally allow ski-bikes, a member of the staff from the ski patrol accompanies both of us for a few runs to ensure that she can ski-bike safely and handle the lifts. Because of her back, she is unable to lift or carry the bike. So I as her buddy carry the bike to the lift and hold it while she uses my ski poles for support and the foot skis to get on and off the lift like other skiers. Upon dismounting the lift, I set up the bike and she skies over to it and takes off.
~ So far all the resorts that do not permit ski-bikes have been pretty accommodating in giving her the opportunity to ski-bike at their resorts, sometimes after a little pressure. For adaptive skiers who wish to ski-bike at a resort that does not allow ski-bikes, it is recommended that they contact the lift management operators or head of the adaptive ski office to request permission to use the ski bike as an adaptive equipment. Explain that the ADA requires such reasonable accommodations. We even had our lawyer draft a letter explaining this for those who were more reluctant.
~ In closing, we want to recognize the wonderful staff of those ski resorts that don't normally allow ski-bikes for giving Carolyn the opportunity to enjoy their mountains. We also appreciate the time and patience the Adaptive Program staffs of Telluride and Durango took in introducing us to this wonderful piece of equipment that will enhance our retirement for years to come.
Lawrence and Carolyn Brick
~ I have been an on-and-off skier for the past 15 years, but because of quadricep weakness I have never progressed beyond the beginner level. While skiing at Vail three years ago, I contacted the Adaptive Ski School and met with the director Ruth Demuth. Thanks to her advice I began skiing with CADS (CADS.com). CADS greatly increased my endurance and allowed my skiing ability to advance, but I still found intermediate terrain to be difficult.
~ I became interested in ski-bikes when the Vail Adaptive Ski School notified me that they would be allowed for use as adaptive equipment. This change in Vail’s policy is due in large part to the efforts of Jeff Cain (adaptive ski-biker).
~ My first stop was the ASA web site which is a great asset to the ski-bike community. After discussing ski-bikes and my physical limitations with Rod Ratzlaff, Jeff Cain, Ruth Demuth, and Luke Van Maldeghem, I ordered a K2 SMX ski-bike. Luke had successfully modified an SMX for the Vail Adaptive program to allow the rider to stay seated on the bike while the chair-lift moved under the ski-bike’s seat and picked up the bike and rider together. This method of lift-loading interested me because off-loading at the top would be easier if I did not have to stand up from the low seating position of a chair-lift.
~ With a few suggestions from Luke and a lot of trial and error, I fabricated a new seat bracket and shock bracket for the K2 ski-bike that moved the shock forward and raised the seat. This created enough length under the seat (16") for the chair lift to carry the bike.
~ To ensure a good beginning to my ski-bike endeavor in February 2004 at Vail, CO, I decided to start with a few lessons. The first day was challenging, but by the end of the second day I was ski-biking easily down hills that had previously been difficult on skis. Lift-loading worked very well (after the first try) and with practice became easy. I was fortunate to have an excellent instructor, Justin Carter APSI with the Vail/Beaver Creek Ski School. Thanks to his instruction and assistance, I really enjoyed learning to ski-bike. I also met Jeff Cain at Vail for a great day of ski-biking. The opportunity to ride with an experienced adaptive ski-biker was invaluable.
~ As my riding ability and speed increased, I became interested in trying a ski-bike with a front and rear suspension. I contacted Don Koski, who was kind enough to arrange a demo of the Koski Monotrac at Buttermilk (Aspen). I was very impressed with the Koski ski-bike, especially its suspension design. I have since ordered a Koski Monotrac and plan to change the seat position so the ski-bike can ride directly on the chair lift.
~ Buttermilk provided another excellent ski-bike experience. Hans Hohle (the director of Operations and also a ski-biker) was very helpful as was instructor Jeremy Mirefield. Buttermilk allows ski-bikes on the main lift (with or without foot skis). They also have ski-bikes for rent. I had a great time at Buttermilk and am planning to return there for a ski-biking trip.
~ I was unable to attend this year’s festival at Durango. I plan to be there next year with both bikes if anyone wants to check out my modifications. I want to thank everyone who helped me get started in this wonderful sport, and I encourage anyone who is interested to try it.
~ My name is Josh Franklin. I am a 25-year-old double-below-knee amputee from Houston, Texas and therefore haven’t partaken in any winter related sports activities in my life. However, on January 31, 2004 I tried snow skiing for the first time. It was an incredible experience and I wanted to pass along this letter, which briefly describes my experiences.
~ On January 31 I traveled to Colorado to go snowboarding, mono-skiing, and to ride ski bike. I found snow skiing to be a lot of physical work and had problems learning that skill. Therefore, I did not care for it that much. Snowboarding and mono-skiing were a lot of fun, however, riding the ski bike was an awesome experience that I will never forget. It required very little work to ride, which makes it perfect for any amputee-either single or double like myself.
~ My instructor was Jeff. He taught me several things on the ski bike such as: slowing myself down as I ride down a slope, hockey slides, cuts, and turns. Jeff was a wonderful instructor and made learning all of these skills very easy. In fact, after being under his instruction for only a few hours I felt comfortable enough to take the ski bike down some steep green runs!
~ The entire experience was very gratifying, and I am looking forward to hitting the slopes again very soon.
~ My name is Patty Bartlett. I am a bilateral below the knee amputee, 44 years old. For the last two years, I have experienced the thrill of winter sports as an amputee at The Winter Park Ski Facility in Colorado. In 2003, I was able to try the sit ski, which was a real thrill. This past year, Feb. 2004, I was able to experience the ski bike with the help and guidance of Mr. Jeff Cain.
~ Jeff spent the day with me instructing me on the use of the ski bike. He was very informative and supportive. His excitement and knowledge fed my enthusiasm about wanting to try this experience. Within a few runs, I felt the thrill, comfort and ease of operating the ski bike. The ease of use and ability to spend longer periods of time on the mountain were invaluable to me, since there was relatively no pressure or stress on my limbs. Doing the short, radius turns, stopping effectively, and the ease of getting on and off the lift chairs was especially attractive for me. I was able to catch on to the whole experience within a short period of time. The bike was easy to maneuver and control. I felt very comfortable handling it. I would even entertain buying one, if more resorts were to allow this mode of skiing.
~ When comparing the ski bike with the mono ski, I felt that more independence can be achieved on the ski bike with being able to get on and off the lift with ease and ultimately, not requiring constant help from an instructor. I also was able to try four-tracking. After about a ½ day on the mtn, I began to feel tired and was disappointed that I needed to come down from the mtn. Being able to stay all day would’ve been my choice.
~ I have been fairly active in sports throughout my life and to be able to experience the ease of the ski bike was a tremendous boost to me.
~ I had the most exciting day getting to try the ski bike and hope that in the future, it will be an integral part of other disabled ski participant’s experience.