Ski safety: Tips for the slopes

ski shot

Why do we love to snowboard and ski? That’s a silly question with an easy answer: because it’s fun.

A significant contributor to the fun of downhill snow sports is the sensation of sliding down the hill, in control but at speeds that are higher than we humans would normally be able to achieve without sticks made of wood, fiberglass, metal, and plastic. This flying feeling, obviously, comes with an element of risk, something we all need to be conscious of and manage appropriately while on the slopes.

January is National Ski Safety Month at ski areas across the United States, sponsored by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). Over 50 years ago, NSAA developed the Responsibility Code, a basic set of 7 key tenets for skiing safety. It focuses on personal responsibility for snow sports participants. However, safety on the mountain goes beyond the basics of the Responsibility Code. There are as many aspects to safety while skiing and snowboarding as there are types of snow. Here are a few ways to be safe on the slopes this winter.

  1. Wear a helmet

Helmet usage has exploded among skiers and snowboarders in the last decade. According to NSAA, 73% of all snow sports participants wear a helmet, up from 28% ten years ago. Helmets won’t protect you in all circumstances, of course, but wearing one is certainly a good idea. Lots of research has been done about the efficacy of helmets, including the website LidsOnKids.Org that encourages parents and kids to wear head protection.

Ski areas have been encouraging their customers to wear helmets for years. Some ski areas, like Whiteface Mountain in New York, provide free helmets for all people renting equipment.

  1. Consider the conditions

Experienced downhill sliders know that the conditions on their favorite trail can vary from blower powder to groomed corduroy to boilerplate linoleum. Sometimes, though, we forget how quickly the conditions can change – even on the same day. Always be aware of the snow surface conditions and alter your skiing and snowboarding accordingly.

Use various cues to monitor the snow surface, including your eyes, ears, and feet. Continuously monitor this feedback to keep yourself in the proper athletic stance, which increases your ability to anticipate and react to changing snow surface conditions.

  1. Watch for others

You must be aware of your surroundings; don’t stop in the middle of the hill, and before re-entering the slopes, be sure to look and yield to others; and watch out for other skiers.

Collisions on the snow can have a serious impact on you and someone else, potentially for the rest of your life. Most ski states have state statues that make careless skiing or snowboarding a potentially criminal offense. So, take it easy and slow down, especially if the trails are crowded.

These are only a couple of ideas about how to keep yourself safe on the mountain this season. Winter snow sports safety also includes a wide range of additional topics and considerations, including avalanche awareness, being sun smart, avoiding tree wells, keeping your equipment tuned and in good working order, and many other matters. Make ski safety part of your normal routine and be safe out on the hill!

Source: Huffington Post