Adaptive – The New Emerging Market – Key Note Lecture Sunday 6 September 2015

Following all the activity of the opening ceremony on the mountain all the delegates decamped to the new conference centre in Ushuaia to attend the Interski 2015 key note lecture by Huston Cowen.

This key note lecture was all about the emerging market of disabled snow sports. Huston is the founder of Challenge Aspen, one of the few snow sport training centers in the US that runs as a business rather than a charity. The business model is based on several facts that he feels could change the way people view the Adaptive snowsports industry.

Huston “Big 3”

* 1 in 6 families have a disabled family member (an estimated 1.2 billion people with disabilities globally).

When put in those terms the size of the potential market is clear and DSUK has also seen over 1000 new skiers join their UK- based indoor adaptive programmes this year. All of this indicates that the market is growing and that there is a lot of scope for more growth as people are exposed to the idea that they can go skiing with a disability.

* A disabled person typically travels on a ski holiday with an average of 5 family members or friends. These other group members do not need specialist adaptive equipment or instruction but will require all of the standard services that make a winter snow sports package. This potentially provides a substational extra income stream to any resort or snow sport organisation that provides an Adaptive programme.

* Every member of the group spends between $2,000 and $6, 000 per person on their holiday.

Huston did not reveal the costs of setting up a disability programme but talking to him after the presentation he believed that if a resort bought into the idea the costs and benefits would be shared by everybody.

If the current growth of adaptive continues there is going to be a large increase in the number of instructors required that can teach people with disabilities in the next few years. This is relevant in Europe where the market is almost completely void of ski schools willing to address the new market.

Since that key note lecture by Houston I have spoken to many countries over the past few days and it is clear that very few are as well prepared with their Adaptive programmes as BASI is.

Many countries treat the Adaptive discipline as a short “add on“ module to the other disciplines, these countries will struggle to produce skilled enough instructors to handle the variety of clients that they will be required to teach. BASI is one of the very few countries

that has a full course progression for Adaptive. The BASI system has 3 Adaptive levels including the top level 3 with the ISIA stamp.

An interesting trend perhaps most notably the PSIA (US) is a move to towards a tighter link between the Alpine disciplines and the Adaptive. Talking to Jeff and Kim from PSIA the intention seems to be to align the Adaptive and Alpine skill development. This would allow more instructors to leverage the skills they already have then add any new Adaptive skills to them.

I am looking forward to getting out on the snow with the PSIA workshop (Wednesday 9th) being presented by Jeff and Kim. The session is going to be on the links between Alpine and Adaptive skills.

I believe BASI next big challenge is to increase the number of instructors that come through the Adaptive pathway so we are ready to meet this increasing demand in this market.

That’s all from me on the Adaptive for now. The Great Britain team is looking great, I have heard from several local people who have told me that they have the best display. The professionalism and skill they are demonstrating are certainly showing us all in a great light, I am not sure how they do it considering most days we are working for more than 15 hours!

Greg Moffat



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