Skiing for EveryBody – Adaptive Snowsports in the Alps
The UK’s leading adaptive Snowsport charity, Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK), believes that taking part in adaptive snowsports has the power to transform a person’s relationship with their disability. It is committed to enabling all disabled people to redefine their relationship with not just the snow, but with all aspects of their lives.
The increase in adaptive snowsports provision DSUK has witnessed across the Alps in the past 30+ years delights it. This increase in accessibility in the Alps means that as the years have gone by, DSUK has been able to develop from offering holidays at its home base of Cairngorm Mountain in Scotland to an ever-increasing array of resorts across the Alps and now North America.
Supported by a fantastic team of highly qualified adaptive instructors as well as a brilliant network of passionate and skilled volunteers, DSUK operates ski schools at various locations throughout the UK and takes pride in welcoming and challenging all who it works with to reach their full potential out on the slopes.
One of DSUK’s key activities is its adaptive snowsport holidays. Each year it offers a range of holidays and these holidays have been known to make a profound difference to its customers’ lives. For many disabled people, this is a chance for the entire family to get away on holiday together and enjoy an activity that they can all do! A great difference from the past when often the disabled family member would be unable to join the family on their holiday, especially on a ski holiday. As DSUK demonstrates, there is an incredible number of adaptations available to make snowsports accessible for all, and as such, there is rarely a reason that people can’t take part.
Since humble beginnings on Cairngorm Mountain, awareness of adaptive snowsports has improved vastly across the UK and the French Alps. This has been helped dramatically by the inspirational athletes that we had the privilege of watching compete in the recent Winter Paralympic Games and the Special Olympics. This is mirrored by an increase in the general public’s awareness of disabled athletes through wider exposure of the Paralympics.
As a result, accessible offerings and facilities have increased dramatically. Many Alpine resorts now offer ski schools with adaptive-qualified instructors and hotels with accessible bedrooms, and luxury chalet companies offer fully accessible holidays, such as Consensio, which has a whole range of accessible ski holiday options.
Mark Kelvin, CEO of DSUK, believes that there is also an increasing openness and willingness to allow equal opportunities on and off the slopes: “Even if the infrastructure is lacking, there is a really positive attitude to help disabled skiers and snowboarders overcome the barriers that might still exist around the resort, particularly in the French Alps.”
“The increase in adaptive skiing throughout the Alps means that we have been able to diversify our holidays further,” Josef Tautscher, activities and membership coordinator for DSUK, tells us. “This season we have plans to run specific Mono-Ski week holidays and trips to the Alps that coincide with some of the well-known comedy or music festivals held in some of Europe’s best-known resorts.
When asked about his favourite resort for accessibility, Mark said “It’s difficult to choose, as it’s so unique to the skiers. What I will say is that our skiers and snowboarders have great things to say about Morzine, Villars, Pila, Sestriere, and Val Thorens, and this season, in particular, La Plagne was top of the list of resorts that our skiers and snowboarders would like us to go back to.” He adds, “we look forward to offering more accessible holidays in Courchevel 1850 and Val d’Isère throughout future winter seasons.”
With expertly qualified adaptive instructors, DSUK can ensure that clients receive the best tuition and a great experience, so they get the most out of their holidays and develop a life-long love for snowsports that’s infectious.
Consensio strongly believes that the mountains should be accessible to everyone; as such it has partnered with DSUK to better support its work. For each and every week of the winter season, Consensio has donated a private accessible snowsports lesson for a child with a disability. As the founder for DSUK said all the way back in 1974… “Why shouldn’t you have a wheelchair on the top of a mountain?”
To discover more about DSUK, and find out how you can help support their work click here.