Toyota Sit-Ski Set to Make Debut at Paralympic Winter Games.
Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Racing Development USA Create Sit-Ski Made Available for Use by U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing.
PLANO, Texas (March 4, 2022) – Toyota is using its U.S. racing branch, Toyota Racing Development USA (TRD USA), to offer technical and technology expertise to the development of the first-ever Toyota Sit-Ski, a monoski accessible for use by U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing. Laurie Stephens, a seven-time Paralympic medalist, and Andrew Kurka, a two-time Paralympic medalist, are the two Team USA alpine skiers that will compete in the Toyota Sit-Ski at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing.
“In a quest to revolutionize mobility for the world and inspire the next generation of Paralympic athletes, we’ve teamed up with an all-star group at Toyota Racing Development USA for this special project,” said Lisa Materazzo, group vice president, Toyota Marketing, Toyota Motor North America. “There is no better global event than the Paralympics for Toyota to reinforce our passionate belief that everyone has the right to freedom of movement in an inclusive society and we can’t wait to see the athletes compete in the first-ever Toyota Sit-Ski.”
In celebration of the rig’s debut on the world’s biggest stage, Toyota is giving sports fans and racing enthusiasts an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the development of the Toyota Sit-Ski project. The new multi-episode video series was created in partnership with Media.Monks, a global creative and production partner of Toyota in the United States, can be viewed at ToyotaSitSki.com.
“It’s an exciting collaboration that Toyota, TRD USA, and U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing have had for a few years now,” said David Wilson, group vice president and president, Toyota Racing Development USA. “It will be an incredible moment when we see the Toyota Sit-Ski come down the hill for the first time in Paralympic competition given the team’s heart and soul that has gone into this project.”
TRD USA has dedicated a varied team of engineers and technicians to design a sit-ski from the ground up, using lessons learned from their experience on the racetrack. The project’s development has been ongoing, with testing beginning in the late winter of 2019. Chris Devlin-Young, a five-time Paralympian, assisted TRD USA and U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing in testing the sit-ski and providing input along the process. The suspension system, seating position/fit, and mechanical adjustments based on the disciplines within para-alpine skiing are all areas of concentration for the project.
Kurka is hoping to defend his gold medal downhill and improve on his silver medal in super-G after their success in PyeongChang 2018. Stephens hopes to improve on her bronze medal performance downhill by being on the podium in super-combined and super-G.
“There’s a lot of pressure on me especially going into Beijing to not only win but to represent my country and to set myself up for the future,” said Kurka, who is also a Team Toyota athlete. “I’m a very particular sit-skier because my life is on the line when I’m out there and I want to make sure that not only am I safe, but I’m fast. Win, lose or draw, the Toyota Sit-Ski is an awesome monoski.”
The Toyota Sit-Ski has been tested and competed in all over the world, including Winter Park, Colorado; Saas-Fee and Saint Moritz, Switzerland; Mount Hood, Oregon; Panorama, Canada; Lillehammer, Norway; and re, Sweden.
“It’s been fantastic to have Toyota and TRD USA in this partnership,” said Tony McAllister, associate director para-alpine high performance, United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. “The athletes are going to be using the technology and what they feel underneath them is the most important thing. Toyota really enables our athletes to be at their best and they have so much fun skiing in the Toyota Sit-Ski.”
Toyota and the Paralympic Movement
Toyota has been an active supporter of Paralympic athletes and adaptive sports. In 2015, the company became the official worldwide mobility partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Committees for the 2017-2024 period. In addition, Toyota is a proud partner of Team USA and several Paralympic National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and Paralympic national teams, including the National Wheelchair Basketball Association; U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing; U.S. Paralympics Cycling; U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing; U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding; U.S. Paralympics Swimming; U.S. Paralympics Track & Field; USA Curling and the USA Wheelchair National Curling Team; USA Hockey and the U.S. National Sled Team; and USA Triathlon and the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team. Toyota also has long-standing relationships with Adaptive Action Sports (AAS) and Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF). In addition, Toyota has featured two U.S. Paralympians in Big Game commercials (Amy Purdy – 2015, Jessica Long – 2021).
Last year, Toyota launched a first-of-its-kind program offering up to $5 million in support and sponsorship opportunities to all eligible U.S. Paralympic athletes in an effort to further support Team USA’s Paralympic athletes as they pursue their sports dreams. Coming from the Toyota U.S. Paralympic Fund is a one-time stipend that directly impacts the lives of eligible U.S. Paralympic athletes aiming to compete at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and those who competed at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. To date, more than 430 U.S. Paralympic athletes and hopefuls have received direct support from the more than $4.9 million raised for the Toyota U.S. Paralympic Fund. Toyota is also offering sponsorship opportunities to athletes named to the U.S. Paralympic Team for both the Tokyo and Beijing Games.