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Adaptive Ski: 5 top accessible ski destinations in Europe

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It’s winter in Europe and ski season! Here is our list of 5 destinations equipped for expert or amateur or beginner skiers with a disability. Come with us across France, Switzerland and Northern Italy.

Italy: Sestriere

Sestriere is part of a larger skiing complex called the Via Lattea (“Milky Way”) and there is a wide choice of  adaptive sports both in summer and in winter. In winter the Ski School Freewhite organises ski and snowboard courses  for people with all kinds of disabilities.

In summer, the Freewhite school organizes stays at the Hotel Lago Losetta, a fully wheelchair accessible structure and offers various sports like archery, handbike, trike, tandem, downhill bike (on a 4 wheel bike) , swimming pool and table tennis.

Italy: Bardonecchia

Bardonecchia is a renowned ski area, very well equipped for the disabled, perhaps even more than Sestriere. Being at a lower altitude, Bardonecchia has a train station in the city center: there is a direct connection by train from the heart of Turin (Porta Nuova) and then a shuttle to reach the starting point for all the various sports activities of the ski school “Nordovest”.

During the winter season you can choose between two main activities: skiing and snowboarding with the  Ski School Nordovest. They have started a project called Nordovest No Limits, to bring people with disabilities closer to these two winter sports. They have specialized instructors for people who have a mobility, visual or hearing impairments or a learning disability. In addition, since 2017 the ski school has created the No Limits ONLUS (non profit organisation) in order to bring the disabled closer to this sport for free.

In the summer, thanks to the recent purchase of a Joelette chair for hiking excursions, children and adults can discover the magnificent paths and enjoy the stunning landscape. The excursion in the mountains is the only summer sport activity for now accessible, but it is definitely worth it.

Domain of the 4 valleys and the Pays d’Enhaut- Switzerland

We go now to Switzerland, at the 4 valleys domain, where you can also enjoy adaptive skiing. Manoelle “Mano” Pauli has specialized in adaptive ski for people with physical and learning disabilities and in 2012 created “Sharing Emotions”, a handiski (as they call it in French) school. She does piloted Dual Ski since 2010, and she has been coaching the Swiss French disabled Ski Team. She is also assistant coach to the Swiss Paralympic ski team.

Piloted Dual Ski is where the skier is installed in a shell seat fixed by a frame articulated on two skis:  the instructor guides the person via a bar located at the back.

Mano Pauli is currently training Thibault Brancart, a blind skier who is training for the Paralympics and she is not giving lessons for a while, so she advised us to mention the Association Capdenho. Capdenho offers also piloted dual ski lessons in winter in the Pays-d’Enhaut and many outdoors activities in summer too (included an all terrain CIMGO chair). However, due to the high cost of the equipment and the pilot, they also do fundraising to be able to offer free or discounted days out in the snow.

La Plagne-France

La Plagne is well known for its immense ski area. Located in the region of Savoie in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, it features 425 kilometres of accessible slopes thanks to the “Antenne Handicap” association. For more than 20 years, the association has allowed people with physical, mental and sensory disabilities to fully enjoy the pleasures of skiing. They offer standing ski, sitting ski (ski chair) in complete autonomy (with stabilos) or guided by an instructor in the case of people with severe disabilities. La Plagne is a very accessible resort: it has 78 adapted housing units, 3 accessible toilets, home nursing services, and disabled parking… A must for accessible ski!

Vacances Répit Familles (VRF) Les Cizes-France

The VRF (village respite for families) Les Cizes lays is France at the heart of the Jura massif between lakes and mountains and welcomes visitors in a pleasant and safe environment all year round.

The structure is a respite holiday village adapted and equipped for people with different types of disability or medical conditions (cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease etc) and has a team of nurses, assistants and adaptive sports teachers. They have 16 fully accessible and equipped chalets and in winter you can hike on joëlettes, ride dog sleds  and do tandem skiing (ski chair). Just a stone’s throw from the Swiss border, the Les Rousses ski area has 50 kilometres of slopes and will be the perfect place for a few hours of skiing under the supervision of a professional instructor.

Well, if after this short introduction you are now super curious, want to know more, and ask directly a very lively community of adaptive ski lovers, you can definitively join the Facebook group Adaptive Skiing and Snow Boarding. Happy winter!

Infos & Contacts

Sestriere, Italy Sestriere Sport Disabili 
Bardonecchia, Italy Scuola Sci Nord Ovest
Scuola Sci Nordovest – P.IVA 08980590015
Villaggio Campo Smith
Regione Molino, 4
10052 Bardonecchia (TO) – Italia
Switzerland Handiski (currently not offering lessons)
Association Capdenho
p.a. Pays-d’Enhaut Région Economie et Tourisme
Place du Village 6
CH – 1660 Château-d’Oex
La Plagne-France La Plagne 
Association Antenne Handicap
Galerie commerciale Aime 2000
73210 La Plagne
Les Cizes-France Vacances Répit Familles (VRF) 
5 rue des Cizes Saint-Lupicin
+33 3 84 60 46 00

This article has been researched and written by Andrea NegrinGiulia Arduino and Thomas Ardui, Destination Scouts. If you have any questions feel free to ask or comment using the form below

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