What is Monoskiing?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Monoskiing is a winter sport related to skiing which uses a single double wide ski. The skier plants both feet on the board facing forwards and skis using traditionally styled ski poles. Monoskiing is sometimes compared to snowboarding, a sport which superseded monoskiing after the 1980s. Monoskiing is an interesting alternative to regular skiing, especially for disabled skiers or those with weak knees.

Thick socks can be weather appropriate when monoskiing in cold climates.
Thick socks can be weather appropriate when monoskiing in cold climates.

The monoski was invented in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the late 1960s that the design was picked up by a California surfer who refined it and popularized the sport, which remained popular for approximately 20 years. A monoski is built much like a conventional ski, except that it is double wide. The bindings are placed side by side so that the skiers legs are essentially locked together facing forward.

Monoskiing may be a good idea for those with a history of knee injuries.
Monoskiing may be a good idea for those with a history of knee injuries.

The equipment used for monoskiing is usually identical to that used in conventional skiing. Monoskiers need ski poles, ski boots, bindings, and weather appropriate clothing. The sport is relatively easy for regular skiers to pick up, although it does take some getting used to, especially in terms of balance. It is possible to perform ski stunts on monoskis, as well as reaching high speeds, catching air, and engaging in traditional cross country skiing.

Monoskiing is easier on the knees than conventional skiing. For this reason, some skiers with weak knees have adopted monoskiing, which centers the weight between the knees while they move with the axis of movement. Individuals with a history of knee injury may wish to look into monoskiing. Monoskiing also requires a lot of upper body effort, which balances the work between upper and lower body more equally than in conventional skiing.

Special equipment for paraplegic skiers is also called a monoski. A monoski for disabled skiing is actually a type of chair with a ski mounted onto it which can be controlled with the upper body alone. For paraplegics who miss skiing, or paraplegics interested in picking up a new sport, this type of monoski can be very empowering.

The snowboard came into popularity after the monoski, and many winter sports enthusiasts switched to snowboarding. Snowboards are more stable than monoskis, although the learning curve is steeper. Despite the popularity of the snowboard, monoskiing is still practiced in some parts of the world. It can be difficult to obtain monoskis and lessons in some regions, but monoskiing is a sport worth exploring.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I learned to ski when I was very young and am fortunate enough to live where I can ski often. The only thing is that my knees really began bothering me as I got older.

I used to be able to spend all day on the slopes and do this for 2-3 days in a row. Then I got to the point where my knees would only tolerate it for a few hours at a time.

One of my friends suggested I try monoskiing as it would take a lot of the pressure off my knees. At first I thought he was crazy, but decided it was worth a try if I really wanted to continue to ski.

Balancing and turning were the two things that took me the longest to learn, but I couldn't believe how much longer I could ski without my knees hurting me.

I really think that was the only way I was going to be able to continue skiing for any length of time. I am really glad I didn't have to totally give up a sport I love so much.


I have seen a few people monoskiing when I have been on the slopes. Usually they are people who have to learn how to adaptive ski because they have some kind of injury.

Even though I love to ski, I am really not very good at it because don't get to go as often as I would like.

I am in awe of these people who can mono ski because I have a hard time just staying up on two skis. I can't imagine how hard it would be to keep my balance with just one ski.

If you loved to ski though, and this is the only way you could do it, I would certainly give it a try. The ones I have seen are usually going down the hill much faster than I am.


If you are bored and want to see something neat you should check out some monoski videos. You would be surprised at the tricks people can do. Some of the jumps are absolutely fantastic.

Some of the best examples of monoskiing can be seen at the Monoski X Games. Professional athletes always make things look easy, but a good monoskier is really something to see. The free skiing competition is probably my favorite of all the categories as it really gives people the chance to show off their skills on the ski hill.


If you're looking for a really challenging sport monoskiing is something to try. I actually started back in the 1980s due to an injury which made it hard for me to use regular skis. I find that monoskiing is one of those really adaptive sports, as even with a disability you can do it.

The only thing that is tough these days is finding a place that has the equipment that you will you need to try the sport. Nowadays I have to order my supplies online from a seller in another state. It's a bit of a pain, but if it keeps me active it is well worth it.

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