Monday, December 31, 2007

Strong Arms - High Speed

Chris Klebl, a member of the U.S. National Disabled Nordic Ski Team, cruises down the back stretch of the sit-ski course
photo by Dan Schneider/ Daily Mining Gazette
The U.S. National Disabled Nordic Ski Team will ski in the first race of the 2008 U.S. National Cross Country Skiing Championships. The races begin Tuesday in Houghton, Michigan.

A sit-ski has a custom molded seat attached with an aluminum frame to a regular pair of skis. The skis attach to the frame with various conventional bindings. International competition requires the seat to be 30 centimeters above the skis, but after that athletes are free to improvise.

"This is about it for us in the U.S., and there's what, six of us," said Sean Halsted, referring to himself and his teammates on the U.S. National Disabled Nordic Ski Team. Sean was injured while in the military in 1998, and at first thought he'd never be able to participate in athletics again. But he was introduced to sit-skiing in 2001 at a winter sports clinic offered by the Disabled American Veterans.

First he tried downhill skiing, but decided that he preferred Nordic style. At first, he admitted, he thought it looked impossible. Nordic Sit-skiers propel themselves exclusively with their arms, double-poling all the time.

California Polytechnic State University is studying the dynamics of sit-ski equipment, but little other scientific work has been done on the topic. Since there are so few sit-skiers, Halsted said, the sport does not have the benefit of commercial research and development.

Members of the U.S. national team will compete Tuesday with laps on the 2.8-kilometer course at the Michigan Tech Nordic Ski Trails. The race begins at 9 a.m. The men on the team — Chris Klebl, Bob Balk, Greg Mallory, Andy Soule and Halsted will race 11.2 kilometers. Monica Bascio, the one female member of the team, will race 8.4 kilometers.

from Mining Gazette, "Strong arms and high speed", Dec 31, 2007
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