Skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed in many ways. At areas, you may see people using alpine skis, snowboards, telemark skis, cross country skis, and other specialized equipment, such as that used by the disabled. Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the slopes, always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk in skiing that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Observe the code listed below, and share with other skiers and riders the responsibility for a great skiing experience.
- Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
- Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
- Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Know the code. It’s your responsibility.
Note* This is a partial list. Be safety conscious.
The National Ski Areas Association has put together a “Know the Code” video; view it below.
Snow sports helmets have come a long way in recent years. They’re often more comfortable, warmer, and more breathable than ski hats, as well as lighter and better fitting than in the past. Helmet usage continues to increase among skiers and snowboarders. The National Ski Areas Association reported that 73 percent of skiers and boarders wore a helmet in the 2013/2014 season, up from 57 percent in 2009/2010, 48 percent in 2008/2009, 43 percent in 2007/2008, and 25 percent in 2002/03. The largest percentage of helmet wearers is children under 9, with 88 percent of children nine or younger wearing helmets, 80 percent of children between 10 and 14 using helmets, and 80 percent of adults over the age of 65 using helmets. Traditionally, the lowest percentage of skiers and snowboarders wearing helmets is between the ages of 18 and 24; for the 2013/2014 season, 62 percent of skiers and riders in that age bracket wore helmets, up from 18 percent in 2002/2003.
A helmet is one additional tool for slope safety, and the National Ski Patrol recommends wearing one while skiing or boarding. However, it’s important to remember that helmets have limitations. Studies show that helmets offer considerably less protection for serious head injury to snow riders traveling more than 12-14 mph. Safety and conscientious skiing and riding should be considered the most important factors to injury prevention, while helmets provide a second line of defense. Don’t let a helmet give you a false sense of security. When wearing a helmet, ski and snowboard as if you’re not.
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Watch this video from High Fives Foundation featuring former patroller Sally Francklyn that discusses helmet safety.
Terrain parks are an increasingly popular feature at ski resorts. Parks have rails, jumps, boxes, and more features that enable skiers and snowboarders to try new tricks and show off their skills. Using features safely in a terrain park involves having knowledge and a plan. Here are two sites that provide many resources on terrain park safety.
Deep Snow and Tree Well Safety
Skiing and snowboarding in deep powder is very enjoyable. However, tree wells, areas of loose, unconsolidated snow at the base of trees, pose a hazard for the unwary, and can lead to death from Snow Immersion Suffocation (SIS).
In studies, 90 percent of those who were voluntarily buried in a tree well could not dig themselves out without assistance. When skiing in areas where tree wells and deep snow are a potential hazard, always ski with a buddy.
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