Crossing Over

Last turn in the last light. Guide Arno takes advantage of the lingering alpenglow while riding near one of the overnight huts. An illuminated Mont Blanc (out of frame) provided an exceptional sunset view for Arno as he finished the day in style.

Crossing Over A Chamonix Adaptive Adventure

It was the end of June 2020 in the Chamonix valley, and the only snow in sight exists within the nooks and crannies of the Alps’ granite peaks far off in the distance.

Most elite-level snowboard teams would write this off as a potential summer training ground without even a second look. Yet the Dutch adaptive snowboard team, comprised of athletes Lisa Bunschoten, Renske van Beek and Chris Vos, along with their coach, Frank Germann, came here to hone their skills. And they didn’t bother bringing snowboards.

As part of a unique approach to summertime strength training and conditioning, the team uses crossover sports to help develop skills that are endemic to snowboarding. This includes skateboarding, surfing and mountain biking. While bikes might be an outlier when it comes to standing sideways, plenty of commonalities exist. “We integrated mountain biking along the way because it correlates with the high speed, riding lines, banked turns, jumps and the split-second decisions the athletes make while snowboarding,” coach Frank says.

In 2019, the team did their first mountain bike trip in Samoëns, France with Arno de Jong of Alp Adventures as their guide. Compared to their native trails in Holland, the Alps are considerably more challenging, with technical trails and grueling climbs. But after a week of riding, progressing and honing their individual bike setups, plus the following spring of training, the team was ready for something bigger. Each athlete has a diff erent disability, and while they’ve spent years developing equipment for snowboarding, modifying their e-mountain bikes and getting comfortable with the setups was a challenge in itself—before the pedaling even started.

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