Visually Impaired Skiing

October 3, 2012

We are asked all the time about how we manage to race through alpine skiing courses. We thought we’d explain a little about how we ski about the mountain, quickly and safely.

In IPC alpine skiing, the visually impaired athlete is led from the front through the course by a fully sighted guide. Charlotte says, “Kelly struggles to see me, so I wear a high visibility running vest over my training and racing suits so that she can have a better chance of following my racing line.”

Kelly and Charlotte Gold Downhill

Kelly and Charlotte Gold Downhill

“We travel pretty fast, and there isn’t as much time nowadays for verbal communication. I also used to look over my shoulder a lot more, that can be dangerous in speed events such as super-g and downhill, so we use bluetooth radio communications, originally designed for motorbikes but they work really well for skiing”.

Kelly explains, “Cardo system’s Scala rider is an essential part of our equipment, we don’t go skiing without them. The lightweight system is very adaptable to skiing. We put the two way system onto our helmets with ease. Using the comms system has made skiing for someone with a visual impairment a whole lot safer”.

cardo systems

cardo systems

“Charlotte is able to tell me in real time, what she’s experiencing, bumps, ice, changes in light or terrain, it’s so important. All the racers use radio comms.”

“We charge them up every night as a precaution, but the battery life lasts all day, even in very cold temperatures, or extremely windy weather, we’re able to articulate the important bits quite clearly”.

In addition to the high vis. vest and the comms, Kelly also uses a high category goggle that filters as much light as possible similar to the Oakley fire iridium lens.

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