If it’s your first time skiing, you are likely to have ski lessons so your instructor will pass on the key elements to hopefully having a safe and enjoyable ski holiday.
However, if you haven’t been skiing for a while or if you are going to a major ski area during the busy holiday period, here are a few checks before you leave the ski chalet / hotel to ensure you maximise your enjoyment and that of everybody else on the slopes.
Ski on pistes that suit your ability
Check the piste map carefully. If you’re a beginner skier, or a nervous intermediate, don’t try and impress your friends by taking on the blacks or tricky reds.
Likewise, if you’re an experienced skier, don’t lead less able skiers off on runs which are not suitable.
Keep your speed in check
You may be an experienced skier but not everyone on the piste is likely to be as competent. Use your common sense. If you are faced with a clear slope and good visibility, go for it. However, break the slope in to sections and ensure you are always in control should you have to slow your speed. If the piste is crowded, check your speed – remember skiers ahead of you can be unpredictable.
Remember that those in front have the right of way
Whether you’re crossing a trail, making a turn, or stopping, remember that it is your responsibility to avoid the skier in front of you. As above, skiers of all abilities can be unpredictable.
Give those having lessons plenty of space
Most lesson groups will be snaking across the psite. Give them space. Try not to cut through the lesson but go round. Wait for them to pause for further instruction and think about staying ahead of groups.
Learner / beginner skiers are easy to spot so even if they are not in lessons, give them space. Let them focus on what they are doing and the slope in front of them, rather than constantly worrying about how fast skiers or boarders are coming up behind them.
Keep off closed trails
Obvious but you would be surprised how many people ignore closed piste signs. The run will always be closed for a legitimate reason. This could be for safety due to avalanche risk, poor snow exposing rocks, etc, etc. You could also find yourself inadvertently entering a slalom race!
Either way, you may end up having your lift pass taken away.
Practice good manners and patience on lifts
Whether on a gondola or a button lift, queue patiently – avoid pushing or standing on other peoples skis. Give way to lessons and be willing to help small children when appropriate. Keep your cool, there are worse places to be on a Tuesday morning – you could be back at work in the UK. Finally, always be aware of back packs getting caught on the chair – you may be forced to do the jump of shame!
If you are unfortunate enough to collide with another skier, always stop. Check everyone is ok and apologise if necessary. Sometimes these are unavoidable and as long as both parties are polite and reasonable (and nobody is injured) both should be able to brush themselves down and carry on.
If you witness an accident, stop and offer help. If there is an injury, you may be required to ski for help. If this is the case, note the piste number on the piste markers as this will be required by the rescue team. Some lift passes and piste maps also have emergence numbers to call if you have a mobile.
By Andrew Price