Amputee Snowboarding: Andrew’s Story

For Andrew, the past year has consisted of many first’s. First prosthesis. First customized socket fitting. First time walking on a prosthetic leg. First time skateboarding on it. And now, just one year after walking for the first time on his prosthetic leg, Andrew is leaving skiers, snowboarders, and everyone else in a trail of powder with his snowboarding skills.

Andrew represents the spirit of the individuals we get to see every day. They refuse to accept limitations. ‘Cannot’ is not in their vocabulary, and they will take advantage of every opportunity to reach their goals. For Andrew, this meant getting back to skateboarding in the warmer months, which helped him prepare for shredding on the mountains once the snow started to fall.

Watching this video {below}, you’d never know that Andrew was working with a prosthetic leg to carve those turns, and you’d definitely never guess that it was one of his first attempts at doing so. What makes this achievement so remarkable is that it is impossible to see any difference between his snowboarding skills and those of any other on the mountain. And that single achievement of ‘getting back to normal’ is the first step to a future of achieving every other goal he sets his sights on. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to do so at lightning-speed, flying downhill with the wind in your face and the sun at your back.

So we’re perfectly happy that the groundhog saw his shadow. Now we get more time to practice carving those turns on the mountain.

Amputee Skiing: Winter Sports Series

Ahhh, February. We are buried in snow, the groundhog has spotted his shadow (6 more weeks?!?!), and there are plenty of glove-and-hat days in our near future. But February also brings with it the start of that most glorious season for winter sports enthusiasts: spring skiing season. And in 2014, it also brings the Sochi Winter Games. What more could a skier ask for?

For amputees, ski season delivers an exciting opportunity to tear up the slopes in several different ways. If you’re an amputee who is new to skiing, or you’ve recently lost a limb, you may be wondering whether the experience is as good as it is for able-bodied skiers. Or you may be anxious about your ability to carve a turn with a prosthetic leg. The great news is that the experience for amputee skiers is generally the same, or even better, than their able-bodied counterparts. There are few things in this world more invigorating than zipping down a mountain, with the wind in your face, carving turns and leaving a trail of powder flying in your wake.

So if you’re ready to get back on the slopes, or try it out for the first time, here are a few ways to make sure your experience is one to remember:

Learn about your options – there’s more than one way down a mountain.

Amputees have a few different options available to them for snow skiing.

Sit-Skiing: If you’re not yet comfortable on your leg(s), or if you are a bilateral amputee: you may prefer a sit-ski or mono-ski. This ingenious adaptive ski will allow you to sit in a bucket seat, using a single ski and a pair of outriggers to carve turns and navigate the slopes.

Using both skis with your prosthesis: If you are comfortable walking and participating in other sports and activities with your prosthesis, then you may want to use it along with both skis to have a more natural experience on the slopes. Advancements in prosthetic technology, such as high-performance sockets, ankles, and knees have made this experience possible, and will allow you to bend and move as needed to navigate turns.

Single Ski: Or you may opt to ski on a single board, using only your dominant leg. While it’s a different feeling to lean and turn on a single ski, the technology of double-edged skis makes it possible to carve right and left turns with ease.

Check your fitting.

A well-fitting socket can ultimately be the one element standing between you and your best performance. Before buying that lift ticket, be sure to make an appointment with your Prosthetist and let them know about your plans for skiing and any other sports or activities you’d like to get involved with.

To learn more about the ski programs available throughout the US, or to get started with lessons, visit www.DSUSA.org.