Adaptive skiing in Zell am See-Kaprun
"I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy a ski holiday when and how they want," says Caroline Ooms. In 2017, the native Dutchwoman started UP Adaptive Sports, the first adaptive ski school in the Zell am See-Kaprun region, which specialises entirely in the needs of people with disabilities.
"Whatever your age and whether beginner or expert, in a wheelchair or standing, blind or with visual impairment, we try to make skiing or snowboarding possible for everyone," says Caroline of UP (Unlimited Possibilities) Adaptive Sports in Zell am See-Kaprun. Her courses are always private and individually tailored to the requirements and needs of her guests. Currently, Caroline accompanies her guests to the pistes herself whenever possible and also employs two other trained ski instructors who also work at her partner ski school Oberschneider. Together they make sure that their guests feel safe and in good hands.
Before UP Adaptive Sports, the 38-year-old Dutchwoman worked for a long time at the Dutch Ski Federation and was responsible for the development and expansion of adaptive winter sports in both amateur and professional sports. She organised courses and trainings as well as European Cup and World Cup races. In doing so, she has always noticed that the possibilities for individual skiing holidays for people with disabilities are very limited. With UP Adaptive Sports she wanted to change that - and chose the Zell am See-Kaprun region for it.
In addition to the Lechnerberg, Caroline also appreciates the ski area on the Maiskogel. This area is ideal for families in particular. Here there is a gondola lift as well as a chairlift and T-bar lift - so lots of opportunities to try out taking the lift. The UP Adaptive Sports team is also happy to take beginners and experienced skiers on the wide pistes in the panorama and family ski resort Schmittenhöhe. "I want to show the guests as much of the region as possible," Caroline explains.
The snow-reliable Kitzsteinhorn glacier ski area, with its extra-long ski season, is visited mainly by guests who already have a bit of experience in adaptive skiing. In addition to the wide glacier pistes, there are also many red and black pistes here, as well as fun parks that can be checked out by advanced monoskiers and dual skiers.
But the monoskis or dual skis are not the only sports equipment used for adaptive skiing. Visually impaired or blind people ski with classic ski equipment, but are guided by a guide and instructed via radio. At Caroline’s, the ski instructor and guest also wear the same ski suits or vests so that the other skiers on the piste are aware and can act with due consideration. People with an amputated leg, but who basically have good balance, stability and enough muscle strength, can also ski standing up with crutch skis. "The requirements are always individual," says Caroline. That's why preparation is also crucial for a successful adaptive skiing holiday.
Some of her guests also imagine skiing to be easy: "But like any novice skier, my clients need to practice a lot." How quickly adaptive skiing can be learned and how much is possible also depends on physical fitness in general. "In the end, it's sport. And even if you have people around you on the pistes to support you, you have to do your own part," says Caroline.