Two Locals Participate in First-Time Snowsports Event at Jiminy Peak

By AlpineZone News |
Feb 21 2006 - 10:10 AM

HANCOCK, Massachusetts ??” Snowboarding has become one of the most popular snowsports in the winter resort industry, and it is not just exclusive to the able bodied community anymore. Specialized equipment and instruction is now available to bring this sport to everyone, even if you have a serious disabling condition. Two snowsports organizations merged last weekend to make history in the Eastern United States, conducting the first certification examination in Adaptive Snowboarding. AASI (American Association of Snowboard Instructors) and PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) came together at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire offering snowboard instructors the chance to take part in a test of technical and educational knowledge, professional teaching skills, and riding skills for teaching people with disabilities how to ride a snowboard.

Husband and wife team, Mary Ellen and Jon (LJ) Whitney of Wynantskill, New York and instructors at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort were in attendance, along with twenty-one candidates from all over the Northeast, including four men from Virginia and three from Maine. LJ Whitney was one of nineteen candidates passing the exam. Mary Ellen Whitney played a different role, as a member of the Adaptive Board of Examiners for PSIA and a snowboard rider, she helped to give the exam.

Teaching adaptive snowboarding involves much of the technical skill involved as in teaching adaptive alpine skiing. There are special tools and equipment necessary, such as outriggers for individuals who have leg paralysis or amputations, or guiding instruction for blind riders. The exam process tests your skills in areas such as disability knowledge and medications used; movement analysis, personal riding skills and creative teaching scenarios. Each candidate chooses an area of disability to be tested in, such as Developmental Disabilities and Visually Impaired / Blind (Stand-up riding); Mobility Impaired (Outrigger) riding; or Tethering skills (Sit-down riding).

PSIA Adaptive Board of Examiners provided the expertise in the Adaptive arena of teaching snowports for people with disabilities, while AASI Board of Examiners provided the mechanics analysis of personal snowboard riding making a team of experts to conduct the exam. Expectations are high for many more certified Adaptive Snowboard instructors to take this exam in the future.