Volunteer Training Resources

Brush up on your knowledge of adaptive snowsports skills here.

Select a subject below or watch some instructional videos (coming soon).

Volunteer Safely
General Disability Info
Cognitive Disabilities
Physical Disabilites
Vision Impairment
On the Mountain
Lift Loading/Unloading
Other Assistive Techniques
Sighted Guiding

MOST IMPORTANT – Always Volunteer Safely

  • As a volunteer you are in charge of safety.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable or safe doing something DON’T DO IT.
  • Let the adaptive team know and we will make it our responsibility.

General Disability Information


If a person has never been to the snow before then your role is to help the person you are with
understand the mountain environment.You can help them make decisions about how it relates to them and their personal safety.If they are not capable of making those decisions then it is the volunteer’s role to ensure they are safe in the mountain environment.

Common Considerations
  • Temperature – both cold and hot and temperature in extremities where the individual may have limited sensation.
  • Fatigue – snowsports are quite physical and are especially so for someone learning.
  • Dehydration and hunger – it is easy to forget the mountain environment is dry and to let sugar levels drop when playing on the snow.
  • Sunscreen and especially the reflection up from the snow.
Things to do
  • Check the booking details for specific information.
  • Remember everyone is different. Make no assumptions and if you are unsure ask the person with a disability or if they can’t let you know ask their caregiver.
  • When asking questions relate the question to why you need to know i.e. so you can offer the appropriate support and to be safe.
  • Establish a baseline from your observations of movement/behaviours/strengths. Use this to observe for things such as cold, fatigue, stress, hunger, etc.

Cognitive Disabilities

Ask their caregiver
  • If there are any safety concerns that you need to be aware of.
  • If there are any behavioural tips such as words that help get attention, and techniques they use for behaviour control.
  • If there are any things that motivate the person or that they are interested in.
Establish simple rules from the outset and stick to them
  • Eg: “Always be in control and when I say stop you must stop”.
  • Always enforce a rule if you have one. If your rules are broken then take a “time out” like sitting on the side of the run. Maybe give the person 2 chances and then the 3rd time take the time out.
  • Expect and deliver age appropriate instructions and behaviour.
  • Use simple single instructions only (2 instructions in a row may get lost).
  • Be direct not abstract.
  • Establish a ROUTINE and stick to it. Avoid chopping and changing what you do (i.e. Stay on the same run, sit in the same order on the chairlift, or always be in front or behind on the magic carpet.).
  • Use visual demonstrations to get a message across and try facing the same direction as the student.
  • Use students’ interests as a basis for instructions, games and conversation.
Some Common Cognitive Disabilities and Tips

Down Syndrome

Global Developmental Delay and Other Intellectual Disabilities



Physical Disabilities

General Considerations
  • Fatigue, Temperature, and Anxiety can all affect the symptoms of the disability as can the effort involved in learning something new.
  • Regularly check for the above and take action as appropriate.
  • It may be useful to take a chair on to the slopes so that someone has a place to rest without having to go inside.
Some Common Physical and Sensory Disabilities and Tips

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spina Bifida

Cerebral Palsy

Muscular Dystrophy

Multiple Sclerosis

Traumatic Brain Injury

Vision Impairment

Download the NZSIA Adaptive Snowsports Training Manual for more.

On the Mountain

Always ask an instructor for approval before progressing onto more difficult terrain.
Know the Snow Responsibility Code for you and the person you are with:
  • Stay in control at all times.
  • People below you have the right of way.
  • Obey all ski area signage.
  • Look before you leap.
  • Stop where you can be seen.
  • Don’t lose what you use.
  • Stay on scene.
  • Respect gets respect.


If involved in an accident this is what to do:
  • Stay with the person.
  • Cross skis above the accident site or place snowboard above the site.
  • Send someone to the nearest lift base station to ask the lift operator to advise patrol of the following: specific location of the accident, identifying features of the person involved (i.e. approx. age, gender, colour of clothing), and the general nature of the injury.
  • When patrol arrives if the person is unable to do so themselves advise patrol of the nature of the person’s disability.

Equipment Storage

When returning Adaptive Equipment please ensure:
  • It is clear of snow.
  • Any buckles are done up.
  • It is put back in the same place it came from.


Disability Red Flags for Sit Skiers

  • Temperature.
  • Pressure points/sores.
  • Catheters and colostomy bags.
Safe Transfer Technique

  • Position wheelchair close to sit ski and make sure sit ski is supported.
  • Student crosses arms, lift from behind with hands on students forearms, backs close together.
  • Second volunteer lifts underneath upper leg from the side.
  • Always use a count i.e. 1,2,3,lift!
Equipment Setup

  • Strap to the lowest functional part of the body.
  • Evacuation line loops must be accessible at all times.
  • Loading mechanisms – every brand is different. Know how they work.
  • Use foam to get a better fit and blankets if it is cold.
Picking Someone Up After Falling

  • Make sure the ski is across the hill on the downhill side.
  • Pull up on the frame of the sit ski NEVER the person.
  • Squat with your feet on the edge of the ski.
  • Use your body weight and arms to right the ski. Protect your own back.

    • ** ALWAYS attach yourself to the bi-ski with the short tether line **.
    • Unless specifically approved otherwise only ever bucket a sit ski on greens and EASY blues.
    • Keep speed under control by turning back up the hill to slow down at the end of every turn.
  • Bi-ski – tilt to turn.
  • Mono-ski – flat ski and twist.
  • Loose bucketing allows students to learn movements. Support them if they move out of balance as opposed to keeping them in balance.
  • Push with straight arms leaning on seat or bar as opposed to pulling up when manoeuvering.
Lift Loading/Unloading

    • Always do a practice lift before loading a chairlift .
    • Use countdowns for lifting i.e. 1,2,3, lift!
    • Safety tethers must be accessible and ready to connect to the chair.
  • The seat on the HoC bi ski must be released before loading.
  • Communicate with lift operators your needs for a slow and a pullback if required. Ensure you get a response from the lift operator before proceeding.
  • If something goes wrong do not try a second attempt. Ski into the pit or if unloading stay on the chair.
  • Push with straight arms leaning on seat or bar as opposed to pulling up when manoeuvering.
  • When loading centre the sit ski in the middle of a conveyor lift and between the footrests on a chairlift.
Blocking Role

  • Ski above and ahead of the sit skier to prevent skiers/boarders from crossing in front and cutting of sit-skier or passing through tether lines.

Other Assistive Techniques

  • Make sure you can always prevent a person from skiing backwards if they have links attached.
Ski Pal, Hula Hoop & Bamboo Poles
  • Use to assist with speed control balance and turning.
  • Do not use to support skier/rider to stand.
Tethers for Snowboard and Skis
  • Use with links to assist a person with turning and speed control.
  • Try to keep movements as smooth as possible.
Two Point Hold
  • To assist with turning.
  • One ski inside, one ski outside the person’s skis. One hand on their hip the other on their thigh.
  • Gently twist the hip and thigh to encourage direction change.
Skiing Backwards
  • Either holding person’s ski tips and pushing against their extended arms for speed control.
  • Do not let the person use you to stand up.
Other Useful Tips
  • When assisting someone to move on the flat support both the upper and lower body and keep movement as smooth as possible.
  • Encourage turn shape to control speed.

Sighted Guiding

  • If person has some sight guide from in front.
  • Use a preparatory call then a turn call i.e. “and. . .turn. . ”.
  • For moving around on the flat use the clock system or step left/right tip; left/right.
  • Encourage gradual movements and rhythm.
  • Use countdowns when loading and unloading from lifts.




NZSki Adaptive Snowsports
Adaptive Coordinator
Sheena Haywood 027 488 0088

Snowbuddies NZ
Website Manager
Tony O'Keefe 027 867 4958