Sit skiing in New Zealand – Aurelie going global

I tried sit ski and I liked it!
For a very long time I though that I would never be able to ski. Sometimes my friends left for winter break and I even didn’t question myself about going with them or not. I was so wrong! We can have a disability and ski!

Aurelie - I wheel travel - sit ski
Aurelie – I wheel travel – sit ski

I tried it for the first time in New Zealand on a volcano! Indeed Whakapapa ski resort in Mount Ruapehu offers adaptive lessons for disabled people, including people with a visual impairment. First I have to set up myself in the sit ski. The sit ski is a seat which rests on suspensions. Under those, there is one or two skis. When I am sitting on it I need someone to make it stable, to hold it. The shell is very tight around the thighs and waist. My body is really well maintained. After that, I get these kind of little skis to hold. They are some kind of sticks with little skis at the bottom. First I have to attach them around my arms, the same way as we do with crutches. Then I need to adjust the backrest in order to form a 90° angle with my legs and body. This is much more confortable and it is easier to ski because the arms and the little skis must go forward if I want to be able to guide myself in every direction.
Now I’m ready to learn. First step: I have to find my balance without moving, to succeed to lean without falling and to learn to move forward and go backwards on a flat area. To do that I use the « little skis » which end with a piece of sheet metal and I stick them in the snow. The first time I almost didn’t move! I felt like I was stuck. The sit ski seemed so heavy. Fortunately after 5 minutes I succeeded to do it.

aurelie I wheel travel in newzealand
aurelie I wheel travel in newzealand

The next step is to learn how to go down the slope. My instructor is attached to my sit ski with a strap
and an assistance bar. She guides me during the first descent and I do nothing.
The point is to make me feel the sledging. During the next descents I learn how to turn left and right. To do that I need to lean in the direction I want to go. I also have to use the « little skis » and to lean them on their sides to steer the sit ski. After a two hours lesson I still doubt that I will be able to ski by myself one day but I decide to book four more hours lessons. After two hours I am doing it better but it is not very smooth yet.

 

After a sunny lunch I start a new session. As soon as I go through the first descent this is the revelation.
I don’t know what happened but I suddenly get it. I do a series of bends on each side very easily.
Now I just need to learn how to brake. To do this I use the pieces of sheet metal at the end of my « little skis ». The difficulty is that a sit ski move really fast so using these to brake it not always the best solution. When I go really fast the best way to slow the sit ski down is to slow down step by step doing bends one after another. I easily get it because, without knowing it, I have already done it during the previous descents.

Now I can ski alone!

My instructor stays behind me but she doesn’t guide or hold me anymore. The last thing I need to learn is to get on a ski lift by myself and to practise on harder slopes.

This is me in Tokyo, Japan on a gorgeous day in Spring:
aurelie i wheel travelPlease visit my travelblog. Hopefully you like my stories, and you will go exploring this beautiful planet too.

 

Watch this great video on the skiing adventure of Aurelie, become amazed and inspired!