Sit-Ski Freeride in Aspen, CO (video)

To ski or not to ski….

I was always athletic prior to getting injured in 1999 at the age of 16.  Although for some reason it took 6 years for me to get back into any sort of athletic activity.

My best friends have gone snowboarding every winter since we were teenagers.  I would constantly decline their invitation to go after my paralysis in 1999.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to participate, I was just afraid of what I didn’t know…  I didn’t know how a guy who couldn’t stand up could ski down a mountain in the Rockies.  I didn’t want to be a burden on my friends, thinking I would slow down the overall pace of their trip.  Then in the winter of 2006 they talked me into coming along for a ski trip.  The told me we’d go to whichever mountain had a sit-ski program (aka “disabled ski school”).  Reluctantly, I decided to join them.  We chose to ski in Aspen, Colorado because of a non-profit organization called Challenge Aspen.   Through this organization I was able to use an adaptive sit-ski, had 2 private instructors (1 teacher and 1 to follow making sure nobody ran into me), and a full day lift ticket ($90+ value)….. The total cost was $100 dollars per day, which is amazing considering the value of what was provided.   Granted, this was in 2006, but I’m sure they still have a top notch program

After my first day of sit-skiing I realized 3 things:

1)   My fear of the uncertain had certainly subsided.
2)   I had a bigger issue with my disability than my friends did.
3)   I was a decent skier and had tasted the need for speed.

I’ve been hooked ever since that trip with my friends.   We make it a priority to take the same vacation each year.  Eventually I had to purchase my own mono-ski because  1) I felt safe enough to not need an instructor  2) I wanted to ski with my boys, not the instructor and my boys  3) Most of the time the instructor was an OT (“old-timer”), and as a result had a hard time keeping up.  So, I bought my very own sit-ski, which ultimately was good for the bigger picture: Independence.


Take it from me… There is nothing as zen-ishly liberating as gliding swiftly down a mountain while physically disconnected from your wheelchair.  To all my “2 footers”, think about that for a second… If you’re in a wheelchair you can NOT move a meter unless you push a heavy wheeled chair with both arms.  When sit-skiing, not only can you effortlessly glide without pushing, more importantly you are physically free of the wheelchair while doing so, which is psychologically liberating.   Therefore “2 footers”, if you have a friend or family member who’s paralyzed, I think it’s important to be persistent, even suggesting with conviction, that they try sit-skiing.

If you’ve been paralyzed for multiple years, I strongly suggest you try sit-skiing (mono-skiing).   If you are a newly paralyzed dare-devil badass type who thinks that any sort of “adaptive wheelchair activity” isn’t their cup of tea, I dare you to try this…  And if you’re anything like me, I’m going to say: “You know what bub, given the fact that you’re paralyzed, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to ski ….”, and watch you prove me wrong.


There are multiple adaptive non-profit organizations out there, which offer very reasonable prices; you just have to be willing to look.  If you are interested and/or have any questions let me know.

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Showing 7 comments
  • Marcy

    WOW! Jacob you are truly an inspiration for those confined ti a chair AND us “two footers”!!! Lol. As I have stated several times in the past…and coming from your older cousin….you are my HERO!!!! You have been an incredible role model to my children and for that I am truly grateful.
    I remember your life prior to the accident and I am proud to say that you are still the incredible young man with a spirit for life that you always were. And I am so very glad that you are Sharing your story with others to inspire them because you truly are an inspiration to us all…and the perfect example of how when life gives you lemons you make lemonade!!!! Love you cuz! Marce;)

    • Jenelle Ringelman ( FOUSTS GIRL)

      JACOB your truely AMAZING!! This story brought tears to my eyes. Hope to see you in the X-GAMES mono ski. That would be the SHIT!!

  • Reply

    Hi! You are amazing! I will never forget the first time we went skiing with the Sternbergs in Aspen for 2 weeks when we were 13!
    I miss you! I’m so glad to see you are doing so well! I always knew you would never let anything stop you…Jacob is way too cool for that 🙂
    Anyways, this is an awesome site! I can’t wait to see more.
    Love ya!

  • Name (Required)

    Hi Jacob,
    I would like for you to know that knowing you is good for my heart and my soul. We have known each other since 1989 WOW. I remember when you where very young one evening in particular after your Dad came home from work you wanted to race him on your roller skates. Your Dad gave you a good run for the money. If it weren’t for the sewer grate I’m sure you would have won. 😉 Till this day you still face life with that same ambition and desire. You never fail to smile or for that matter be positive no matter what life serves you, sometimes sour sometimes sweet. I love the photos and the sharing of your life. And by the way I love what you have done to the backyard. Although I believe that Ana may have played a large part in the landscaping. My guess is the photo at the concert was the Pink Floyd concert. As you are to others you are an inspiration to me as well. May be always remain friends. Phyllis M

  • spencer

    great video! but that’s an ‘old-timer’ talkin’

    keep rippin!


  • T. J. Beach

    Jacob u are the man makes me smile ear to ear:)) I tell everybody bout my friend Jacob who enjoys life as much as anyone I know!!!u are an inspiration to all of us! Not to mention u truly shred the mountain!!

  • Steve C

    HI Jacob, I found your video on youtube last week after a frustrating winter Christmas break in the French Alps (I am from the UK by the way!). Hello!! For the first time in France I saw a bi-ski this year and iit got me thinking……. I was spellbound when I found your video and it brought more than a lump to my throat as I felt the sense of freedom you describe so well on this page. I was so moved and motivated by it I booked a mono-ski lesson at our local indoor slope the same day, and a week later I now own a mono-ski!!!. I have had CFS/ME for 4 years post severe glandular fever, and my ability to snowboard or ski has reduced year on year to zero. Luckily I am not confined to a wheelchair but I do have to use one during family holidays or long days out, so I part live the frustration you guys have to deal with. Mono is going to be my way back onto the slopes with my kids too! I am so excited I have been sharing your video with my friends. Thank you and best wishes. Steve

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