You will ride up the gondola with your instructor to Olympic station, part way up Whistler Mountain (first time doors open). The gondola is big enough for a wheelchair and a few people (regular capacity 10 adults).
We will get out of the gondola at Olympic Station where we have our equipment hut and wheelchair accessible washrooms. Your chair will be replaced here with a sit ski and stored safely at the hut until breaks, lunch or the end of the day.
The next step is to select the appropriate sit ski equipment for you. There are a number of different models and sizes. We will fit you in a sit ski while in the warm equipment hut and make any necessary adjustments and modifications there. We’ll fit you with outriggers, either fixed to the sit ski or hand held. All sit skiers are required to wear a helmet while in the ski.
The sit ski consists of a molded seat (also referred to as a “bucket”) with adjustable back, on a metal frame that has a huge shock absorber, mounted with a racing binding to either one or two skis. Some students will be using outriggers that are modified ski poles with a mini ski on each end and others may have outriggers attached (fixed) to the sit ski frame. For sit skiers lacking the balance to hold themselves up, the sit ski is selected and fit to allow for an instructor to maintain control of the ski.
The first several sit ski lessons and exercises are all done with the support of an instructor and falls at this stage are minimized. For the safety of the student, beginners will be attached by a tether to an instructor to control speed. You will do a few balance exercises in the hut to get acquainted with the sit ski set up and use of outriggers. On the first day especially, we might be in the hut for up to an hour before progressing to the snow.
Once we are out on the snow we will do more balance and outrigger exercises while sitting on a flat spot without moving.
The next step is to proceed to a very gentle beginner slope. This lesson involves running straight to a natural stop. Here again, we are focusing on balance of the ski.
To access longer runs of a gentle beginner slope, you will ride the "magic carpet" ski lift. This is like a big conveyor belt for skiers and snowboarders. You will continue to receive assistance from an instructor while riding the magic carpet, until you are comfortable and in control of loading and unloading safely.
The actions required to balance in motion, turn and stop the sit ski will be taught and practiced, with differing degrees of assistance, on the gentle slope. Safe falling technique will be covered before the instructor removes hands-on assistance. With a reduction in assistance, falls may become more common. Tethers will continue to be used for safety and speed control for all beginner sit skiers.
We can have breaks in the equipment hut or we can take the gondola up or down the mountain to access restaurants. Our recommendation is to take the gondola up the mountain to the Roundhouse Restaurant at lunch time to enjoy a meal and, weather permitting, great views.
For lunch and breaks we go back to the hut to park the sit ski and get your chair. We will return to the equipment hut to switch back to the ski.
More challenging terrain is accessed either by gondola or chairlift. As with the preceding lessons, instructors will continue with assistance while loading and unloading the lift, while getting comfortable and in control on increasingly difficult terrain and when speed control is required.
At the end of the day or lesson, we’ll download from Olympic Station. Any students who are meeting family and friends should do so at the WASP desk in the Carlton Lodge where they first met with the instructor. There is an opportunity at this time to discuss the lesson and arrangements for a next lesson if on is planned.