23 Jan 2023

Wintertime is snow sports time: tips and offers from the German Disabled Sports Association

Monoski, bi-ski equipment and more: winter sports are possible for everyone - with and without a disability. But what options are there?

With a simple "I'm out", World Cup alpine ski racer Benedikt Staubitzer said goodbye to professional sport in 2019. However, he has not given up his passion for snow and skiing and now inspires young and old to take part in winter sports as project coordinator for snow sports at the German Disabled Sports Association (DBS).

"Enthusiasm for snow sports never leaves you"

"Winter vacations are a big topic for wheelchair users, and not just from southern Germany," says Staubitzer. Families with children with disabilities, young people, but also older and experienced wheelchair users who are no longer able to indulge in classic alpine skiing due to an accident or illness, keep coming back to the snow. "The enthusiasm for snow sports never leaves you," Staubitzer is certain. Whether on sporty monoskis, more "stable" bi-skis or Nordic sports such as cross-country skiing or biathlon, the DBS and its regional and specialist associations offer winter sports at all levels of ability.

Seven people are on skis. Four of them are sitting on ski equipment for people with disabilities, three people are standing on skis. Six people are looking at a man who is also sitting on skis. He is explaining how to handle the skis.
Monoskis or bi-ski equipment offer people with disabilities the opportunity to take part in winter sports. (Image: private)

"Sport is important for all of us to stay healthy, whether you walk, are visually impaired, use a wheelchair or have lost limbs due to amputations, there are sporting opportunities for almost everyone and we support them," Staubitzer continues.

Lina Neumair from the DBS not only relies on information from DBS regional associations, new sports groups are constantly coming together, especially on social media and through word of mouth. The most important message: you are not alone! People exchange ideas and talk shop about converted sports equipment.

The offer ranges from talent days and snow sports weekends to online courses that clubs that want to set up an inclusive department can book free of charge. The young and committed DBS team is committed to "sport for all".

Many people are skiing down the hill on a ski slope. In the foreground is a person on a monoski.
The monoski is probably the best-known type of ski for people with disabilities. (Image: private)

As monoski or bi-ski equipment from specialized manufacturers is expensive to purchase, individual ski schools in Germany and Austria now offer such conversions to try out. Another opportunity for wheelchair users to try out skiing is offered by the snow sports weekends organized by the DBS regional associations. The next one will take place at the end of January in Kirchzarten and in February 2023 in Sauerland.

The major aid manufacturer and REHAB exhibitor ottobock is one of the main sponsors of the Disabled Sports Association and, together with other aid specialists, sees itself as an "enabler" of the inclusive sports concept.

A woman stands on two skis. She is pushing a child. The child is sitting with skis underneath him.
There are also opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy winter sports. (Image: picture alliance/DBS)

At the 22nd REHAB, from June 15 to 17, 2023, visitors can find out more about biathlon from the Badischer Behinderten- und Rehabilitationssportverband (BBS – Baden Disabled and Rehabilitation Sports Association) and try their hand at the shooting range. Other sports associations will be involved, demonstrating sports and inviting visitors to take part in the inclusive sports complex at the trade fair in Karlsruhe.

Successful genetic treatment

When asked what motivates him to get involved in handicap sports after his professional career, Benedikt Staubitzer tells the story of a couple he met who were skiing enthusiasts. Their five-year-old son had been diagnosed with SMA, a life-shortening progressive disease called spinal muscular atrophy. The parents sadly saw themselves "never again in the snow and in the mountains", especially not as a family. Thanks to a completely new pharmaceutical gene treatment, the physical effects of SMA were not only halted, but the boy recovered so well that he now skis together with his parents.

"I'll never forget the broad, happy grins on the faces of father and son on their first downhill run together on a bi-ski," beams the Upper Bavarian alpine ski racer and continues: "This 'snow sports' coordination position at the DBS came at just the right time, after the end of my career. I can pass on my passion and enthusiasm for snow sports in a great environment. The focus on participation and therefore a completely different sporting community has opened up new perspectives for me."

  • Further information on REHAB 2023 can be found HERE.
  • Comprehensive basic information on all types of sport for people with various disabilities at Parasport.
  • A free handbook with tips on all sports can be found HERE.
  • On 12 February 2022, there will be a snow sports weekend in the Sauerland to try out.