Inaugural adaptive mountain bike instructor training comes to the bike park

Josh Dueck and Cole Bernier take in the Sun Peaks scenery before dropping in last season. Photo by Niall Pinder.

Kootenay Adaptive Sports Association (KASA) will be training Adaptive Sports Sun Peaks (ASSP) instructors to teach mountain biking for the first time in the resort from Sept. 24 to 26.

KASA created the first iteration of an adaptive mountain biking instructor program last year, which they based off of the Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP).

Now in its third iteration, the program will be introduced to three ASSP instructors including Nic Riopel, general manager of ASSP, who said he hopes it will make the mountain more accessible and inclusive.

“We’ll be able to open up our program to someone that doesn’t ski,” Riopel said. “And those who are already in our ski program will be exposed to a new program in another sport, which I think is awesome.”

The program is geared towards non-profit organizations like ASSP and will simultaneously help grow the grassroots aspect of the sport, which just saw its first ever B.C. race circuit in the 2021 Dunbar Series earlier this summer.

“We had a successful BC Cup and Canada Cup run this year through the Dunbar Series,” said Mike Riediger, executive director of KASA. “With that success it opens us up to having adaptive at all BC Cup races next year.” 

“In order to grow the sport, we need to start with bigger instruction programs, athlete development. Coaching will start next year, then we will run clinics next year as well. Sun Peaks is definitely on the hit list for that,” said Riediger.  

In the meantime, instruction for the KASA adaptive mountain bike instructor program will have a large focus on critical thinking to help instructors work with a variety of abilities.

“We’ve put a lot more into it this year with bio mechanics and bike mechanics. We married the two systems as much as possible,” explained Riediger.

“We worked a lot with BC Wheelchair Sports [Association] and their staff to help develop this into something that isn’t just about bike instruction, but also about understanding functional limitations.”

Reidiger said he expects instructors to be empathetic to the variety of abilities and mountain bike types and to be able to adapt to constantly changing situations.

He said one of the best ways to do so, and one of his goals, is to include as many adaptive riders as instructors as possible.

Riopel said he hopes to have a Sun Peaks program in full swing next season. Pending sorting out insurance, ASSP may offer limited beginner courses on the valley and cross country trail networks as early as this fall.

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