I've just bought an Impact Evolution mono-sitski. I'm probably an intermediate skier. I am not disabled but I have wrecked arthritic knees (too much youthful fun on skis, monoskis and snowboards ) and now that I'm old and broken, I sitski.
The Impact Evolution is the second generation of the Impact ski by Anders Ohlsson founder of Totalskidskolan, the disabled ski school in Are (Sweden). I've had one week holiday on the original Impact, another one on the Evolution and about 25 hours 'training' on a Freedom factory RPC. So what do I know? Except that I found this web site while looking for a review of mono-sitskis!!
To my mind (and at my level) there is very little difference in the overall 'performance' of the RPC and the Impact. Much is going to depend on the choice of ski you use anyway but I think the Impact Evolution has some advantages. Firstly its light (11.5kgs) and can be be taken apart in a few (very few) minutes. You remove four easily accessed allen 'keyed' bolts and the seat comes apart from the 'frame' and a single hand tightened bolt separates the adjustable foot rest 'arm' into two parts. It takes less than 10 minutes to go from snow to bag.
The bag needs to be no more than 65x30x43cms and the whole thing, frame, seat and your boots, helmet, jacket an'all are packed.Where you put the riggers is up to you. Though this is for the seat without a supporting back. If you need back support you have to talk to them and they fix things. The basic set up comes with several seat sizes, a waist strap, thigh straps for each leg and and an ankle strap. I'm sure they can fit you any number of extra loops and straps for tethers etc.
A slight disadvantage is that for very long 'drag' (poma or T-bar) lifts the lack of support on the basic seat can lead to fatigue. Do they have these 'lifts' in the USA? Anyway this is easily solved using a climbing sling figure of 8 round the shoulders and then clipped to a loop on the seat end of the central foot rest. Lean back and enjoy.
For the chair lift, the 'seat and foot rest frame' can be raised up off the shock-frame to give a seat to snow distance of 58cm (about 24inches). However it should be said that this requires a little athleticism, skill and strength to do alone. There is no mechanical or gas assist here. However with just a little help from your friends .....
The sitski reconfigures to the skiing position when the chair takes you on board, so the dismount is a case of skiing off directly with the shovel of the ski taking the 'leading' support role. Do check that the seat's locked down again before hitting any black diamond mogul fields. As with all this sort of activity, committment, courage and strength do help.
And then the drag release. This mechanism is simplicity itself, and much easier than the Tessier and even the Praschberger systems. There are two jamming cleats (sailors should instantly 'get it') one on each side of the seat. You simply use 1.5m or so of 8mm diameter 'rope' to form a loop jammed in the cleats with about 6-9 inch long 'tails' or so trailing. To release you just pull one of the tails outwards and forward, let go and lo you are released.
Trying to do this while holding onto a rigger can be a little awkward. So, once you have enough skills to ski on the tow without too much reliance on the riggers for balance, its much easier to simply let go the rigger on the side of the ski opposite the 'turn off ', and with your thumb towards the seat, grab the tail and turn the wrist out and forward. BUT even easier, simply lean forward, grab the poma or t-bar and with a heave-ho up and towards you (and maybe a quick flick) and the rope falls off ..easy. You might want to practice this on an easy lift and with an instructor/assistant standing by the stop button but its surprisingly straight forward to do and after a few tries it very satisfying when you just ski off .. but if all else fails.. just grab the 'tail' and pull it forward and out!
What does it ski like? Well I'm not a boy racer but I dont think the makers would claim this to be a racing mono-sitski and I wouldnt know anyway. However a couple have been used in world cup races, so some people can fly it. The unweighted butt (or bum) to snow height is about 40cms. This is same as the RPC, and from their brochures, about an inch higher than the Tessier and Praschberger, BUT the leg position is flatter (the seat is not tilted back so much) and the knee position is lower. For me (with my wrecked knees?) it is is much more comfortable. This ski can be happily 'aired', it has Ohlins shocks which I'm sure maybe adjusted for those needing to lay down huge aerials but for the beginner and intermediate skier, this sitski comes set up for cruising and a little discreet bump fun. As for myself (~70 kilos or 150lbs) with a K2 Moto Comp (175cm) GS ski this is an nice and easy skiing machine. Some have said (kindly) that they've even seen me carve (occasionally), and then it goes as fast as I'll ever want to.
For those from the " if you want to go faster, stop turning and find a steeper hill" and the "crash and burn if you want to learn" schools of skiing (I was expelled from both for irresponsible behaviour), I can only say that I've found it relatively easy to get it up again after a 'wipe out' but I have full upper body mobility even though I maybe a bit feeble.
And finally it's very much cheaper than the other european skis (almost half the price at current exchange rates) The package comes with Superlyte riggers, a quality ski and a 20din binding, and I tell you, the Impact Evolution looks good too. As always, how pretty it turns is really up to you.
In summary the Impact Evolution comes as an excellent 'value for money' entry level mono-sitski package. Is it only entry level? Well it's has been developed for ski school use by people who really know and it certainly works in that context, but quite frankly, apart from the future para-olympians amongst us, I doubt that many will out grow it too quickly, if ever.
The contact for tthe ski at the Are school is:
Nick Cutcliffe, Platschef