The athletes are far fewer in number and the competitions receive even less press than most Nordic ski races, but the adaptive ski community is steadily growing and gaining momentum. And now the Central Cross-Country Ski Association (CXC) is getting involved.
Over the past year, CXC has distributed over 120 sit skis to disabled athletes across the country. The first ten sit ski prototypes were produced by engineering graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the project has now been taken over by Isthmus Engineering, a private firm located in Madison.
Several engineers and manufacturing companies have donated their time and supplies to the project, reducing the cost of a single sit ski down to a mere $300. An athlete looking to purchase a sit ski outside the CXC program would pay over $1000.
The program reaches out to ski clubs, ski organizations, and adaptive recreational programs as well as the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team and U.S. Paralympics to provide sit skis for athletes in need. Equipment has also been provided to several individuals who have contacted CXC directly.
The sit skis manufactured by the CXC program are intended for introductory programs, and they are fully adaptable to suit almost any type of disability.
CXC is working to develop a pipeline for sit ski athletes to mirror the pipeline in place for nordic skiers. Reaching out to disabled youth, working with aspiring young athletes and encouraging sit skiers of all ages who want to compete, the program will provide opportunities that make sit skiing a lifelong sport–just like nordic skiing.
“This is the mission of CXC, and that holds true when we talk about Adaptive Programming,” CXC Executive and Athletic Director Yuriy Gusev told FasterSkier. “We know that this is the right thing to do, and continue to work hard to make the adaptive program a sustainable reality.”