Adaptive Trick Skis by Kayla Dixon

A gap in equipment equality inspired Kayla Dixon's capstone project of building two adaptive trick skis and an adaptive jump ski for the Kamloops Water Ski Club. Kayla's adaptive jump ski and trick skis are the first to become available in all of BC and will provide adaptive skiers more options at the annual KWSC adaptive clinic.

We talked with Kayla to get more information about what went into this project and how this will change adaptive skiing! Check it out:

Q: What was your motivation for starting this project?

A: The first year I waterskied, I volunteered at the Kamloops Waterski Club’s annual adaptive clinic. While meeting the athletes, their level of excitement for the sport left a significant impact on me. They all went out and made every set their best set. The atmosphere was so refreshing to be around. I loved the feeling that I got from volunteering there so much that I wanted to find other ways to help out the adaptive waterskiing community.


Q: What resources did you use to complete these skis?

A: When I was trying to determine whether or not I could actually do this project, I researched where I could purchase adaptive skis to get inspiration. Unfortunately, I was only able to find one place where they could be purchased and the website had only one photo, no additional info and the ski was very expensive. This motivated me further as I saw how much room for improvement there is in accessibility for adaptive skiing. So the only way that I could gather the information needed to make the skis was by asking people that I knew. After I had all the measurements, I reached out to Shuswap Ski and Board to see if they had any damaged boards they couldn’t sell that they would be willing to donate to this project. They went above and beyond and donated a wakeboard in perfect condition and they even reached out to Liquid Force who matched their pledge. Without the generosity of these amazing companies, I could not have made the skis.


Q: When it came to addressing the needs of adaptive skiers, what did you prioritize? Were there any needs that were previously overlooked?

A: Before I had completed this project there were no adaptive jump skis or trick skis available. There were only beginner and slalom adaptive skis. I prioritized the need for the jump and trick skis as the clinics and clubs in BC were not able to fulfil that need. I wanted to help bring adaptive skiing closer in equality to able-bodied skiing as the majority of camps for able-bodied skiers have all three types of skis available for athletes to try.


Q: How does adaptive skiing differ from traditional skiing in regards to equipment?

A: I initially didn’t realize how different the two are in regard to equipment. When I saw the prices of adaptive equipment I was dismayed. Adaptive equipment is so expensive that it makes it inaccessible. There are only 2-3 places in the world where athletes can purchase adaptive skis. As a result of these unfortunate circumstances, many athletes end up modifying wakeboards into adaptive trick skis themselves. Unfortunately, this inaccessibility to equipment may deter adaptive athletes away from the sport of waterskiing. The number of adaptive waterskiers is already low and the accessibility to equipment does not help increase the numbers. Hopefully, with these skis being the only adaptive jump and trick skis available to athletes in all of BC right now it will spark a change and improve accessibility for adaptive equipment across, BC, Canada and maybe even worldwide. It’s a step in the right direction.


Q: What challenges did you overcome during the building process?

A: I can’t count the amount of challenges that I had to overcome. One challenge was figuring out where I had to drill the holes for the cage mounting nuts as the board that I was using as my reference wasn’t the exact same as my board. I was actually able to use the math that I’ve learned in school to solve my dilemma. I would say that the biggest challenge happened when we inserted the nuts through the top and then realized that it would not work and then had to redo it and insert them through the bottom of the ski. It sounds simple when I write it out but in the moment it was stressful trying to figure out how to fix it.


Q: What would you like to see change about adaptive skiing in the future?

A: The thing that I would love most to see a change in adaptive waterskiing is more athletes and younger athletes as well. To help get more adaptive athletes involved the awareness of the sport can be improved as well. As mentioned before I would like to also see better accessibility to adaptive equipment which may help to make it more affordable.


Q: Any advice for those looking to take on similar projects?

A: Taking on a project like this would not have been possible without lots of connections. So knowing or getting in touch with the right people is the first step that should be taken. These projects take a lot of time and a lot of resources, so a shop or workspace is pretty important. However, the most important thing needed to succeed in a project like this is passion for the subject. I applaud and thank anyone who takes on a project that helps adaptive athletes.


We are proud to have sponsored Kayla alongside Windsor Plywood Kamloops, and Liquid Force.

Kayla Dixon Instagram - @k_dixon12

Kamloops Waterski Club Instagram - @kamloopswaterskiclub

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