Winter Sports for Wheelchair Users

Content via Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Winter sports are a great way for participants to get exercise and have fun too. There are several winter sports that wheelchair users can partake in, including skiing, luge, and sled hockey.

Many adaptive sports organizations make it possible for both paraplegics and quadriplegics to ski the slopes. Sit skiing is a popular winter activity among athletes, and users can choose between a mono ski or a bi ski, typically depending on their level of injury and mobility.


woman sit skiing in the snow

Neal Williams, now an active paraplegic bi-skier, was encouraged by a paralympian at the 2002 Paralympic games to give sit skiing a try. Once he did, he was hooked. 

“I can’t begin to tell you what a difference it has made in my life. The sense of freedom is incredible.”

Tom Hernon, a T10 paraplegic, is both a skier and a luge athlete. In 2003 Tom placed 4th in the luge event at the Utah Winter Games where he competed against able bodied athletes.

Tom encourages young participants particularly to give the sport a try. “The better you get, the easier it is,” Tom shares.

And Bill Hannigan, a T3 paraplegic and Northeast Sled Hockey League athlete, shares how intense sled hockey can be.

“It’s full contact. There’s icing, offsides, two-minute power plays, fighting, and it’s hard hitting. You can’t purposely run your sled into someone else’s. You try to hit shoulder to shoulder.”

By setting goals, and meeting challenges head on, winter sports can be a great source of positive self esteem for participants.

Are you a winter sports athlete? Share your snow skills with us, and you might be featured on AbleThrive!

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