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Your UCP: National August 25, 2003
Sports & Leisure

Recreation & Leisure

Water Skiing

Water Skiing is a summer-time activity that can be easily adapted for individuals with disabilities. It is both a recreational and competitive activity. In the competitive form of water skiing, there are three events: slalom, trick skiing, and the jumping event. USA Water Ski is a national governing body for water skiing and works through Water Skiers with Disabilities Association to serve individuals with disabilities.


  • All skiers should consult a doctor before skiing.
  • All skiers should consider using a wet suit so their body temperature does not fluctuate to extremes.
  • When learning to ski, one should become acclimated to the equipment while on land.
  • For skiers with upper extremity amputations: Do not attach to a ski rope with a device that cannot automatically let go. Use a ski rope that has a single handle. Use a self-suspending, condylar socket that can be unhooked when put under stress.
  • Skiers with arm and leg amputations generally use the same equipment as non-disabled skiers.
  • A ski harness assists skiers who have difficulty holding onto the tow rope. This product is an adapted wind-surfer harness which enables the skier to release at any time. Ropes with two handles are used for skiers with vision impairments to allow for a guide to ski alongside them.
  • A ski boom is a 15 ft. bar that attaches onto the boat, and is used by beginner skiers.
  • Outriggers can be attached to the sit-ski to help skiers who have difficulty with balance.
  • A skier with a disability uses a board (ski) that is similar to a surf board with a seat (cage) attached to the top. The cage is typically made of padded metal tubes, and is deep so that the skier can sit securely.
  • The ski will usually have diving socks attached to the front to keep the skier’s feet in place as well as attachable fins used for keeping the ski steady.
  • There are various types of skis available for beginner skiers as well as expert skiers.
  • There are also different styles for jumping, slalom, and the trick event.
  • Disabled skiers have the option of holding the rope or attaching it to their ski.

In water skiing it is advisable to have a spotter to communicate between the skier and the driver of the boat. The spotter and the skier must have an established communication system of signals such as faster, slower, and stop. The spotter could be in the boat or on a separate watercraft that follows the skier.

Skiers with amputations can choose whether they want to ski with or without their prosthesis.


  • Sit Skiers – This includes paraplegics, quadriplegics, double leg amputees, and others who are unable to sit in an upright position.
  • Single Leg Amputees – This includes individuals who can sit upright.
  • Skiers with an Arm Disability – This includes various arm disabilities.
  • Skiers with Vision Impairments – This includes individuals who are either totally blind or have partial vision.
  • Slalom – Sit skiers use a narrower version of the slalom course while all other skiers use the standard slalom course with 6 buoys. Skiers with vision impairments must cross the wake, and the crosses are counted for 15 seconds.
  • Trick Skiing – In this event the skiers have two, 20 second routines to perform. They must perform as many tricks as they can, and each trick has a point value.
  • Jumping Event – In this event the object is for the skier to jump as far as they can without falling. It is the same for skiers with and without disabilities, except the skiers with disabilities may choose to lower the jump a little.

    Achievable Concepts (skis, cages, arm harnesses) www.achievableconcepts.com.au 03-9752-5958

    Freedom Factory (Skis, cages)(903) 629-3945

    Booklets Waterskiing for the Physically Disabled (619) 488-1036

    (also see keywords: water skiing, water ski equipment, water ski program, etc.)

    Anchors Away www.musc.edu/AnchorsAway 803-792-0721

    British Water Ski www.bwsf.co.uk 0171-833-2855

    DSUSA www.dsusa.org 301-217-0960

    Intl. Water Ski Federation (IWSF) www.iwsf.com +39.051.615.29.56

    National Ability Center www.nationalabilitycenter.org (435) 649-3991

    Texas Adaptive Aquatics www.neosoft.com/~txadaqua (281) 859-9015

    USA Water Ski www.usawaterski.org (863) 324-4341

    WSUSA www.wsusa.org (719) 574-1150

    More information on this and related topics may be available in the NCPAD Citation Database. Try searching with keywords: hunt, etc.

    The information provided here is offered as a service only. The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center on Accessibility, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago do not formally recommend or endorse the equipment listed. As with any products or services, consumers should investigate and determine on their own which equipment best fits their needs and budget.

    Source NCPAD

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