This season there have been several high-profile skiing accidents. With Michael Schumacher and Angela Merkel hitting the headlines and the seemingly endless series of crashes and disasters on the TV series The Jump, there can be few people who are not aware of the dangers of snow sports. There will always be hazards on the slopes but there are ways to minimise your chances of becoming an accident victim.
Don’t even consider picking up your skis or your snowboard if you over tired, feeling ill or under the influence of alcohol. You will underperform, lack sharpness and could make poor decisions. Staying safe is about keeping alert at all times and making good choices. At the end of a long day leave the slopes before fatigue sets in. Your performance will deteriorate and so will that of the other skiers around you. Accidents are more likely after several hours on the piste.
Keep well hydrated all day and eat enough healthy food. It can be tempting to avoid a stop for lunch because you want to maximise your time on the mountain but your body and mind need fuel to function at their best.
Build Up Slowly
Your body and mind need time to adjust to the challenges of the slopes. Start with simple runs and minimise your speed to acclimatise and then gradually move on to more challenging things. Your body needs to warm up and both body and mind must get into the grove. Stay within the limits of your ability and don’t be tempted to try the extravagant because the people you are with are more capable.
Watch Where You Go
Many accidents are simply the results of collisions or attempts to avoid them. If you need to stop make your way to the side of the run to keep out-of-the-way of others. Stand somewhere where you are clearly visible and not just over the brow of a hill. When in motion be aware if other skiers and try to avoid passing too close to them. Get too close and one mistake from you or the other person can result in a crash. If you do fall get yourself up and out-of-the-way as soon as you can.
Don’t hurdle towards the queues for the lifts and take great care when mounting and dismounting any lift. If you are struggling with the lifts ask the operator if he can slow the equipment down for you.
A swanky ski jacket and a great pair of skis are all well and good but you need more than that to stay safe. Always wear a helmet no matter how proficient you are and if you are snowboarding invest in wrist guards. Set your bindings so that your skis will release easily in the event of a fall and if you have any knee problems wear a brace. Ensure that your gloves and clothing will keep you warm enough as the cold will quickly erode your concentration and if necessary get your hands on some good thermal base layers to provide better insulation.
You can never fully eliminate risk but you can reduce your chances of injury by staying sharp, acting sensibly and using the right equipment. If you stay within the compass of your abilities, steer clear of others and wear a helmet you will have a much better chance of staying safe and enjoying your trip.
Sally Stacey is a keen writer, business owner and skier who divides her time between writing and running her shop.