The TetraSki Project

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The World's First Independent Alpine Sit-ski for any Physical Disability

TetraSki provides independent turning and speed variability through the use of a joystick and/or breath control. The TetraSki is ideal for individuals with even the most complex physical disabilities, allowing the skier to operate the TetraSki safely, with a high degree of performance and independence.

The TetraSki has been in development for more than fours years with the University of Utah Rehabilitation research and development team. Three TetraSkis were distributed to adaptive programs across the U.S. during the 2018/2019 ski season, including comprehensive and mandatory training for instructors and participants. A TetraSki training and distribution program for the 2019/2020 season will be announced soon.

The TetraSki truly represents a paradigm shift in the understanding of how individuals with complex disabilities can have access to and utilize high performance ski equipment.

TetraSki photos by Lee Cohen

TetraSki photos by Lee Cohen

 
 

tetraski in action

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How it Works

The TetraSki is a modified version of the Tessier Snow’Kart, which features electric-powered actuators on each ski and both a joystick and mouth-controlled system for independent control of turning and speed.

A tether — to the instructor — is used as an emergency brake but is not used for turning directions. A wireless remote offers TetraSki instructors a safe way to demonstrate proper skiing technique.

The TetraSki offers an unbelievable level of independent control over a wide variety of terrain. This technology — tested extensively through the University of Utah adaptive ski program (TRAILS) — has replaced the traditional, tethered bi-ski approach in the TRAILS program for individuals with high spinal cord injury and for other diagnoses with significant upper extremity impairments or asymmetry.

A TetraSki computer simulator also has been developed to dial-in customized control settings that can be exported and used with the actual TetraSki.

 
 
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TetraSki Features

The TetraSki offers beginner and advanced modes for frustration-free learning and to unlock higher performance when desired.

Hover over images for TetraSki details.
TetraSki photos by Lee Cohen.

 
 
 
 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

+ May I purchase the TetraSki? . . .

The TetraSki is available for lease only at this time to participating adaptive programs. The TetraSki is still evolving and our current program of providing the ski to adaptive organizations gives us greater control over hardware/software upgrades, feature additions, and, if necessary, repair work.

+ How does our adaptive program apply to lease the ski? . . .

While our program list for the 2019-2020 season has been finalized, we will continue to build more skis and expand our national and international coverage as funding is available. Contact us if you are interested in a future lease.

+ Where can I try the TetraSki?. . .

We are strategically partnering with adaptive ski programs throughout the United States to offer the TetraSki to participants. These programs have been selected to cover a large portion of the U.S. skiing population, including regions in the Northeast, Midwest, Colorado, Utah and California. Prior to the winter season, check our TetraSki Calendar for where the ski will be located for on-snow sessions. Or contact us to learn more!

If you’re interested in trying the TetraSki but don’t have a participating program nearby, consider contacting an adaptive program near you and encouraging them to contact us to partner in getting TetraSki in your area.

+ Is the TetraSki only for those with a spinal cord injury? . . .

No. The device is intended for anyone with mobility impairments, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, muscular dystrophy or multiple limb amputation

+ What safety concerns should I be aware of with the TetraSki? . . .

As with any sport, and especially with downhill skiing, there are inherent risks involved. These risks can be minimized through a combination of good judgement, proper instruction and correct equipment setup. Every instructor that oversees and runs the TetraSki lessons has undergone extensive training with the equipment and is there to help guide you through a safe, fun skiing experience that challenges you while also minimizing any chance of an accident.

That said, we recommend individuals with traumatic injuries should always consult their physician before trying out the TetraSki.

+ Is the TetraSki compatible with our ski resort's chairlift, gondola or tram system? . . .

The TetraSki is compatible with most chairlifts. Typically if a traditional mono-ski/bi-ski can access the chairlifts, the TetraSki should be compatible as well. While a safety bar is recommended (and may be required depending on your local regulations), the TetraSki features a rear restraint system that secures the device to the chairlift backrest.

The Tetraski should fit on any tram or gondola with a door opening greater than 36 inches. Surface lifts such as T-Bars/Poma lifts, or tow ropes, represent unique challenges. If you have any questions about equipment compatibility with your ski area’s lift infrastructure, contact us with basic dimensions and descriptions and we can make a recommendation.

+ What terrain is most appropriate to use the ski? . . .

The TetraSki does great on the majority of green and blue ski runs (beginner and intermediate terrain). However, it is not limited to traditional runs and has been used off-piste with great success. Terrain selection is often dictated by current snow conditions.

+ What types of skis work on the TetraSki? . . .

Designers and engineers have worked hard on identifying particular skis and binding position placement that is optimized for the TetraSki. While most alpine skis technically work on the TetraSki, we suggest the use of skis provided by our program.

+ How is the TetraSki transported and shipped? . . .

The TetraSki comes with a rolling protective case and requires minimal assembly/disassembly to fit inside. This case can be shipped via standard ground service anywhere in the US/Canada. When assembled, the TetraSki easily fits in most SUV’s and vans, and clip-on wheels are included to push the Tetraski around when off the snow.

+ How long does the battery last? Is it affected by cold temperatures . . .

The TetraSki was designed to last far longer than a full day of skiing provided it’s fully charged to begin the day. Dual battery packs provide full redundancy in case of failure, and multiple warning features ensure the skier/instructor will never get stranded with a dead battery. The TetraSki has been tested down to 0F (-18C) with no battery life issues during use, but we strongly recommend charging and storing it indoors.

+ What happens if the TetraSki needs to be adjusted or fixed? . . .

If you are a program currently leasing the TetraSki, we have staff available for phone support. If needed, we are ready to send replacement parts, including mailing the parts overnight so as not to delay use for participants.

+ How does instructor training work and who can do it? . . .

All TetraSki instructors must attend a mandatory training course which includes the 2019 Disabled Sports USA Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, CO, and the 2020 summer Adapted Ski and Ride Summit in Oregon. The course is designed for advanced/expert instructors who already have familiarity with tethering adaptive ski devices.

+ How are you able to financially support this program? Can I support you? . . .

We are fortunate to have a supportive environment that is pro-innovation that affords our team the time and focus to design and build the technology.

If you are interested in donating to the TetraSki program to help us make more skis available, please reach out and we can discuss options. Your support will make a difference! Contact Us

 
 
 

INTERESTED IN THE TETRASKI?

We partner with adaptive ski programs throughout the United States to offer the TetraSki to participants. These programs have been selected to cover a large portion of the U.S. skiing population, including regions in the Northeast, Midwest, Colorado, Utah and California.

While our participating partner list for the 2019-2020 season has been finalized, we will continue to build more skis and expand our national and international coverage as funding is available. 

Contact Us if you are interested in trying the TetraSki and want to know where it will be this season, or if you’re an adaptive program looking into a future lease of the TetraSki.

 
 
 
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Dustin Godnick talks about the TetraSki
The TetraSki is the one thing I feel that it takes real skill to do and I can do it well, even with my amount of physical disability. I was able to take control and that felt great.
— Dustin Godnick, TetraSki participant
 
 

 
 
The TetraSki makes it possible for an entire group of people to own their ski turns ... it’s a game changer for our adaptive skiing community and the patients I serve.
— Wendy Carbone, Physical Therapist at Teton Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
 
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