The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing National Festival are both coming up soon. These are events where sit ski tetherers from many locations meet up, sometimes we learn from each other, sometimes we confuse each other by using different terminology. This post is intended as a reference guide to some common terms. I hope to add more to this list and update this blog over time. If you think a term is missing (or you disagree with my definition) please add a comment and I will add it.
Note: It isn’t my intention here to provide a complete list of suppliers, or review specific products. Some brand names are mentioned where they are frequently used terms (see: the Kleenex Effect)
Arm outriggers These are like short crutches with a short ski at the end. More able sit skiers use these, one on each arm, somewhat like able bodied skiers use poles.
These are skis specifically made for beginner sit skiers. They are very wide with a very tight turn radius. They are asymmetrical (the left and right skis are different). The older ones were bright yellow (as shown in the picture), that plus the bend of the tight turn radius led to the name. Newer ones aren’t yellow but the name has stuck.
A sit ski on the hill consist of two main parts, the skis and the bucket. So, the bucket means the chair, all it’s attached straps, and the mechanics that connect it to the ski(s). Sometime we use Bucket to mean at whole sit ski, including the skis. But then sometimes we use sit ski to mean just the bucket without the skis.
Bucketing – Controlling a sit ski down the hill by holding onto the bucket directly, rather than using tethers. See my article Bucketing – How evil is it.
Bi ski– A sit ski mounted on two skis, without fixed outriggers. This set up is intended for use with arm outriggers. This is the medium set up, it requires more ability to ski than a quad ski, but less than a mono ski.
A brand of sit ski made by Enabling Technologies. Bi Uniques are usually set up as a bi ski.
Buddy/Blocker/Lifter/Second – The ideal team for a tethered sit skier (IMHO) is one skier and two tetherers. The two tetherers lift the bucket together when loading onto the chair lift and take turns doing the tethering. During the run the tetherer who isn’t currently tethering skies behind “blocking’, i.e. trying to discourage other skiers from getting close to the sit skier. However sometimes there aren’t enough skilled tetherers, in which case the team includes the skier, one skilled tetherer and one other able bodied skier. That other skier helps with the lifting the bucket on to the chair lift, does the blocking on each run and helps with pushing sit ski around on flat areas etc.
Daisy chain A system of folding tethers for storage. using loops inside loops. A daisy chain should take less space, not get tangled, and open back out with a simple pull on one end.
Dynamique A brand of sit ski made by Enabling Technologies. Dynamiques are usually set up as a bi ski.
Evac straps – Additional straps on a sit ski not intended for skiing but needed in case of evacuation by rope from a broken-down chair lift. Typically, these are red or orange and form a 3-point harness around the skier, held together by a weight bearing carabiner.
Also called pontoons. This is a cross member with two short skis on each end. The cross member is bolted under the bucket, so that the short skis are outside and a few inches higher than the main skis. These act like training wheels on a bicycle, allowing the sit ski to only lean so far to one site. A Bi ski with fixed outriggers attached is called a quad ski. I’ve never seen a mono ski with fixed outriggers.
Flipping – Most arm outriggers can switch between two positions. In the down (or Skiing) position the short skis are perpendicular to the outrigger post, ready for skiing. In the up (or Poling) position the skis are parallel to the outrigger post with only the heel able to touch snow. This position allows the skier to easily hold themselves in pace or push themselves along. Flipping is the verb for switching an outrigger from one position to the other.
Heel – An area at the rear end of the short skis on arm outriggers. The heel may be metal and/or have serrated teeth. The heel is designed to create friction on the snow, which helps the skier with fine adjustments in their position. “Heel” can also be used as a verb, to heel is to push on the heel to create friction. Many arm outriggers have an adjustable bolt to control the angle of the heel and hence the amount of friction it creates.
A brand of sit skis (buckets) usually set up as a bi ski. Hoc is the correct spelling, verbally it sounds a lot like Hawk.
A sit ski mounted on one ski. This set up is intended for use with arm outriggers. This is the high end set up, it requires more ability to ski than a bi ski. This is the set up you will see in competitive sit ski events.
A brand of sit ski (bucket), possibly the most popular brand especially with non-competitive skiers. Mountain Man buckets are the backbone of most CADS sit ski programs. They are usually set up as Bi skis or quad skis. I’ve heard phrases Like “Is it a mono ski, or is it a Mountain Man?” My local program bucks this trend and does have a Mountain Man set up as a mono ski.
Pontoons – see Fixed Outriggers.
Quad ski – A sit ski mounted on two skis, plus fixed outriggers. This is the low end set up, it requires less ability to ski than a bi ski, or a mono ski. (see the picture above for Mountain Man)
Open the door – usually the basic instruction given to a new skier with arm outriggers on how to initiate a turn. It encourages them to reach out with the inside arm and hand and lean both forward and sideways. It is quite accurately the movement needed to open door when pushing it away from you while seated in a wheel chair. Personally, I think there is some danger in this instruction because it encourages bending at the waist rather than inclining the bucket. See my post on Get you head out of the game.
Outriggers– Technically this can refer to Fixed Outriggers or Arm Outriggers. At my local program “outriggers” is used to mean Arm Outriggers, and the term Pontoons is used for Fixed Outriggers.
These are gloves/mittens specifically intended for use with arm outriggers. They include extra straps and velcro to attach the hand in place in case the skier has a weak grip. I only recently discovered that these exist.
Points of contact – Places on the tetherers body where they are attached (indirectly) to the sit ski. Mostly we use two tethers, so we have two points of contact. Some programs require an additional tether connected at the waist, making 3 points of contact. Some programs require that the arm tethers are fastened between the glove and the jacket, called Skin Contacts.
Pull back/ pull back strap – When loading a sit ski onto a chair lift the further back the sit ski is on the chair the safer and more comfortable it is for all. At some hills the lift attendants will help by walking behind the chair lift and pulling the sit ski backwards when the tetherers lift. Some sit skis have an extra strap attached to the back specifically for this purpose. As an extra safety precaution the pull back strap can be looped around the back of the chair and secured for the ride up.
Rig – A sit ski including the bucket and the skis, plus tethers and possibly pontoons. Assembled ready for a skier to use.
Roll bar – An optional bar which is added across the skiers lap in a quad ski set up. The skier holds on to this bar with their hands. The term is intentionally humorous and inaccurate, this bar does little to protect the skier in case of a roll over. I’m not sure what the correct term is, possibly handle bar or safety bar. (see the picture above for Mountain Man)
Tessier – A brand of sit skis (buckets) usually set up as a mono ski.
Tethers – Long straps used by a tetherer to control the speed and lean of a sit ski (and hence it’s direction and speed).
Tetherer – a skier who follows a sit ski, and is attached to the sit ski via tethers. A tetherer can control the speed and lean of the sit ski (and hence its sped and direction) via the tethers. Tetherers often double as ski instructors for the sit skier.
Thumbing – see Bucketing.
Shock (Absorber) – most sit skis have a small shock absorber, somewhat like a car but more like a mountain bike. The shock absorber smooths out the sensation of bumps while skiing. It’s a good practice to check that your shock absorber is working before you head up the lift.
Wraps/wrapping – Each tetherer has their own preferred length of tether between them and the sit ski, and it may vary depending on the skier, the terrain, the weather etc. Tethers are made in various lengths but usually they are longer than the preferred length at this moment. Tetherers wrap the tethers around their palm or wrist multiple times to adjust the remaining length. Personally, I prefer wrapping around the palms because then I can easily release a wrap or two during the run as conditions change.
Yetti – A brand of sit skis (buckets) usually set up as a mono ski.