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Winter Sports for Athletes with Disabilities: Ontario Track 3 Ski Association

People with disabilities that love the outdoors, especially in the winter can enjoy skiing and snowboarding. The Ontario Track 3 Ski Association gives people with disabilities across Ontario the chance to learn and participate in skiing and snowboarding.

Ontario Track 3 Ski Association

The Ontario Track 3 Ski Association teaches people with disabilities how to ski or snowboard. It began as a small organization in Collingwood where youth amputees learned to ski. These skiers use one ski and two outriggers, so that they make three tracks in the snow as they travel down a hill.

The organization has expanded and now serves people with a wide variety of disabilities across Ontario. For instance, the cities of London and Waterloo have their own regional affiliate organizations. In addition to amputees, programs also serve skiers and snowboarders with:

  • Physical disabilities, including wheelchair users
  • Visual disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities

Training and Equipment

The organization trains volunteer instructors who work with each skier or snowboarder individually. Instructors receive training on how best to teach skiers or snowboarders with particular disabilities. When athletes are first learning to ski or snowboard, they are tethered to their instructors for additional support. As the students gain skill, they no longer need the tethers.

Athletes who are wheelchair users ski using sit-skis, which they steer with their upper bodies. Athletes who are blind ski ahead of their instructors, who tell them when they need to turn or slow down. They often use two-way radio headsets to communicate over the noise of wind and snow.

Some skiers and snowboarders have their own equipment, but if athletes do not have their own equipment, the organization provides:

  • Skis
  • Sit-skis
  • Boots
  • Poles
  • Snowboards
  • Two-way radio headsets

However, all athletes must bring their own helmets.

The Ontario Track 3 Ski Association gives people the chance to learn new sports in a safe but challenging environment. Every athlete learns to use their abilities, has fun, and stays active within their communities.