Snow Skiing
—a sport for real BUM Skiers

Snow skiing on a bi-ski at Fall Creek in Victoria, Australia


This is a shot of Falls Creek on the Wombat's Ramble green run. The bi-ski I am using is a version of a design first developed in Australia in 1987 by George McPherson. The design is very suitable for people without great arm strength (such as quads like myself). Suspension has not been included so as to get the centre of gravity as low as possible for stability reasons. It is not intended as a high speed competition ski but is aimed at recreational skiers. Although I am a complete C5-C6 quadriplegic, I have had tendon surgery of a Deltoid/Triceps transfer carried out on both arms. This gives me a weak Triceps function and makes a lot of difference to my being able to ski. With no grip function my hands are strapped to the outriggers.

In 1991, design details and one ski were sold to an American company as well as another older design frame to Vale Ski Club where people such as Mike Utley have used it. This was a result of the American Ski Team attending the Australian Disabled Skiing Championships that year at Mount Hotham, where they saw the equipment we had developed. We were approached by the Americans as we were obviously well down the development trail where they were yet to start. Sadly they have taken all the credit without giving any to its originators in Australia. The bi-ski has now become a useful part of the US ski equipment range.

The bi-ski I use is a stainless steel frame capable of opening up for use of a chair lift, with a fibreglass seat shell. It is mounted on a "Swing-Bo" snowboard that has two specially shaped skis, both edged by a mechanism in response to leaning. Detail photos

Basically it operates like a skateboard for snow. This enables a considerable amount of turn to be created by a small amount of lean to initiate. This gives good directional control without requiring too much force from the arms. For quads and those with limited arm strength, this makes skiing both possible and enjoyable.

The original "Swing-Bo" was only 120 cm long and was too touchy for someone of my weight (80 kg), developing speed wobbles and prone to over correcting. It also has a very flexible foam core ski that I found allowed the skis to bust all too easily. Adding a fibreglass stiffener to the front half of the ski improved the stiffness and reinforced the main stress area.
Detail photos

The problem was solved when we obtained this racing version of the "Swing-Bo" called the "Challenge". With much stiffer skis that are 150 cm long with less side cut creating less turn they track and run better and turn at a more controllable rate. Another advantage is that I can now side slip when required even though we fitted keels from a busted set of Swing-bo planks. It is a much more functional ski with speed equal to a standard skier but needs to be pushed around into a carve by use of the outriggers, like for a mono-ski, as well as leaning. Others who have tried my ski consider it a real hoot and bloody fast for a bi-ski.

Detail photos of the last version of the "Swing-Bo" bi-ski are all available for you to have a closer look at its open and closed positions, different ski sets, keels, frame and mechanism, T-bar tow rope cleats and the way the bi-skis both edge when the ski leans. Take a look!

I sold my ski to Mt Buller Ski School in 2000, so if you want to try my ski contact them.

If you want to buy equipment, check out my 'Garage Sale' website.

Last revised 3 December, 2000.

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