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Adaptive Equipment and Techniques

Maine Handicapped Skiing uses a variety of adaptive equipment and techniques to ensure a safe and exciting experience for our participants. In addition, MHS maintains a fully operational equipment room with certified technicians to help "fit" the participant to the right piece(s) of equipment for their comfort and safety.

Winter Equipment


Four-tracking is for skiers who have a mobility impairment that requires them to use outriggers or a walker for stability while skiing. Disabilities include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis or those who have lower extremity amputations.

Two skis and two outriggers provide the four-tracker with four points of contact on the snow that helps improve balance.

Outriggers are adapted forearm crutches with ski tips mounted on the bottom. They aid the skier in stability and turning.

The skis may be connected with a ski bra at the tips to help with stability and balance.


Three-tracking is for skiers who have one sound leg (with or without a prosthesis) and two sound arms; generally individuals who have had amputations, who are post-polio, or have a developmental or muscular disease that affects one leg and not the other, or have had a stroke or brain trauma. Three-trackers use a full size ski and two outriggers, giving them three points of contact on the snow to provide increased balance.


Two-tracking is for skiers who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hearing impaired, or have mild motor deficits or upper extremity deficits.

Two trackers use two skis and two boots and may use a ski bra attached to the ski tips. Ski bras assist with lateral control and help maintain a consistent ski position.


A mono-ski is a piece of sit-down equipment that enables people with disabilities affecting their lower extremities to ski sitting down in a molded seating apparatus, or "bucket" with one ski on the bottom. A mono-skier should have good upper body strength, balance, and trunk mobility. Individuals with double lower extremity amputations, spina bifida, a spinal cord injury of T-9 or below, brain trauma, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular diseases, multiple sclerosis, or muscular dystrophy are good candidates for the mono-ski.

Two outriggers are used with the mono-ski for balance and turning. The mono-ski is designed to be self-loading onto the chairlift. This provides the opportunity for an independent ski experience.

A dual-ski is just like a mono-ski but has two regular skis under it for easier balance. Its lever system facilitates the use of a chair lift without any effort from the skier. The skier uses outriggers for balance and turning.


A bi-ski is a piece of sit-down equipment very similar to a mono ski with the difference being two short and wide skis are attached on the bottom of the bucket. Individuals with disabilities including multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, spinal cord injuries, brain trauma, and neuromuscular diseases are good candidates for the bi-ski.

The two skis give a wider base and better balance and stability than a mono-ski. The bi-ski can be skied independently with use of two outriggers for balance and turning. For beginning skiers and those needing more assistance, fixed outriggers and a handlebar can be utilized. The bi-ski must be tethered by a ski instructor whenever the fixed outriggers are used.


A snowboard is for individuals who want a different experience on the snow other than skiing. Snowboarding evolved from surfing and skateboarding and has become extremely popular in the last few years. Riders wear specially designed boots that lock into bindings on the board.

Snowboarding at Maine Handicapped Skiing is available on a limited basis for individuals needing little adaptation. Riders can use outriggers for balance, and bindings on the board can be moved to help with balance. People who have visual impairment, hearing impairment, amputation, or brain injury are often candidates for snowboarding. Improved balance and increased leg and trunk strength are some of the benefits of riding!

Snow Slider

The snow slider is the newest piece of adaptive ski equipment at MHS. It has two skis on its base, while the skier has their own ski/skis on. It can be tethered from behind for control or turning assistance. It gives a person the sensation of skiing/sliding and helps them get the feeling before they venture out on their own. The slider can be used by a person who is three feet tall up to six feet tall. Overall, a very versatile piece!

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Adaptive cross country skiing is for people who want an on-snow experience that is more leisurely and slow paced. Cross country sit-skis are used by people with lower body disabilities, Skiers sit in a soft bucket while using arm movements with shorter poles to propel themselves, effectively building arm and back muscles. Stand-up skiers use long, narrow skis with cross country ski poles. Individuals with poor balance can use a walker adapted with cross country skis attached to the bottom of the walker, allowing for fluidity of movement and increased balance.

Snowshoeing is for people who want a different snow experience that provides a good workout. Individuals who snowshoe must have independent leg action. Today's snowshoes are made of light aluminum and are much smaller than traditional snowshoes. MHS participants who snowshoe often use poles to help with balance and coordination.

Both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing offer a beautiful and serene view of the countryside and a sense of peacefulness not found in many other environments, an added plus for our participants!

*Definitions from Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Adaptive Manual, 1997

Summer Equipment

Canoe and Kayak

Our participants who paddle have a range of adaptations to help them participate effectively. Adaptive paddling equipment gear is available for people who have a variety of physical disabilities. Often a beanbag or other seat adaptation is placed inside a canoe to provide comfort and stability to an individual with poor upper body strength.


Our participants have a variety of cycling choices such as hand cycles, tandems and tricycles. A hand cycle is an adaptation of the traditional bicycle. It uses hand cranks to propel the bike and sits lower to the ground than traditional bicycles. Individuals with lower body disabilities and/or balance issues who are unable to ride traditional bicycles can hand cycle very successfully using hand controls, including pedaling, braking and steering.

Tandem cycles seat two people and are used for an individual who is blind or visually impaired or who fatigues easily due to his/her disability. Tricycles are used for those individuals who need extra balance and stability.


Golf can be adapted in many ways. There are adaptive golf carts available as well as adaptive golf clubs. Clubs are adapted by thickening the handles for a better grip, bending the club for a better angle, or even by making the club shorter for someone seated in a wheelchair.