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DISABLED BOARDER BUILDS OWN SIT SKI

A former snowboarder suffering from a debilitating illness is building an adaptive ski to get him back to the slopes.

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Oliver Vaughan-jones was a passionate snowboarder until 2008 when he was wiped out by the neurological illness, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
He is now bed-bound more than 80% of the time.
Since 2013 he has had to use a wheelchair to get around.
Despite the difficulty he has in his daily life, he harbours a desire to get back into snowsports.
He has been back on snow in an adaptive sit-ski but now is he attempting to build his own, lightweight version.
He is fundraising to help achieve his goal.
Oliver Vaughn-jones

Oliver Vaughn-jones in Andorra last winter

A designer and engineer, he initially decided on the project to take his mind off his illness and stimulate his brain.

The ME affects his cognitive functions and he now has trouble reading and writing.

But he also wanted to try to build an inexpensive ski that would suit his needs and potentially help others too.

Oliver Vaughan-jones

Oliver Vaughan-jones working from his bed

“The current provision for adaptive skis on the market is very expensive, a theme that runs onto all disabled equipment,” he told PlanetSKI.

“Because of this, a lot of adaptive skiers become financially put off, which is just not right.

“The sheer work involved in getting on the slopes, let alone the increased cost, is a situation I feel needs tackling and not just in snow sports.”

The project involves sketches, computer aided design and modelling before the adaptive ski is made.

Sketches

Sketches

Oliver started work on it about nine months ago and set up a GoFundMe page to help develop a prototype.

He has recently produced a short video-update.

“The dream would eventually be to have my own enterprise,” Oliver said.

“And who is to say I cannot take it forward and build a small independent ski company, specifically creating skis for disabled persons designed and built by an disabled person?”

Oliver told us he’s desperate to spend more time in the mountains again.

“Although I enjoyed the park and enjoyed the high-speed, I was mostly bit of a ‘powder hound’ regularly trekking the backcountry around Chamonix where I worked,” he said.

Oliver Vaughan-jones

Oliver Vaughan-jones on his snowboard

“The mix of adventure, freedom and a real buzz from an intense descent is something I deeply miss.

“Also I miss instructing. I qualified as a snowboard instructor in 2007 during a season in Quebec and started racing slalom also whilst at Uni.”

Oliver Vaughan-jones

Oliver Vaughan-jones on his snowboard

In 2017 he had an adaptive ski beginner’s lesson at Tamworth Snow Dome.

He says it was ‘brutal’.

But it gave him an appetite for more.

Earlier this year he managed to get to Arinsal in Andorra, which has a specialist adaptive ski school.

Oliver Vaughan-jones

Oliver Vaughan-jones in Andorra last winter

This winter he hopes to manage his illness enough to become an independent an adaptive mono skier as possible.

He is close to completing his first fully-working prototype and is aiming for a pre-Christmas test.

We wish him all the best!

Oliver Vaughan-jones

Oliver Vaughan-jones hoping to be back on snow soon

You can get regular updates and help Oliver achieve his goal, on his GoFundMe page.

He is also making short videos for his YouTube channel, “Travel, art and possibility” about disability access and adventure.

They include ‘The Andorra Series’ which shows the process of learning to adapted ski.

For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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