Originally published on SeanCarothers.org
The sport of skiing is one that comes with a high risk of injury given the speeds you can reach and equipment you are wearing. While newer technology and improved gear have been direct causes for decreased injuries as of late, the risk always remain present.
Of the most common injuries, 43% occur to the knee due to the constant stopping and turning that comes with riding down the slopes. Ski boots and newer binding technology have helped in preventing serious leg injuries, however, ligament damage remains a prevalent issue among avid skiers. While this is just one of many possible injuries, skiing safely and knowing how to prevent accidents is crucial when on the slopes.
First, make sure you are checking the quality of your equipment before and after every ski season.Typically, ski, boots, and poles (to name a few pieces of gear) will last roughly 3-5 years before the wear and tear begins to take its toll. Professionals recommend going no more than 80-100 days without replacing your skis.
Once you’re ready to hit the slopes, wearing the proper safety equipment is another obvious factor that goes into injury prevention. Protective jackets, pants, gloves, and hats should always be worn, and helmets should be considered for the less experienced skiers or more adventurous ones. Goggles are often important as well, especially when the conditions do not provide adequate visibility. In the event of rain, snow, or even extreme sunlight, goggles can improve your vision greatly. All of this gear can keep your body temperature regulated as well should the weather call for freezing conditions.
Always be mindful of your surroundings. Aside from knowing which slopes fit your skill set best and avoiding the more challenging ones, knowing how to safely ski down said slopes is just as important. Never reach speeds outside of your comfort zone and always keep a safe distance between you and other skiers. Similarly, be considerate of those around you. Understand acceptable speeds given the type of slope (slower speeds on beginner courses), and never stop suddenly in the middle of your run, or make dangerously quick cuts or turns.
One aspect of skiing safety that often falls by the wayside is fatigue. If you are beginning to feel tired after a long day of skiing, throw in the towel. The most ski injuries occur around 3:00 p.m. on average due to increased fatigue, warmer temperatures, and slippery conditions following the melting of the snow.
Lastly, it is crucial to know the locations of all ski patrol teams or crew members in the event of a serious accidents. Signs will be posted around the resort with emergency phone numbers listed as well. Saving these to your mobile device (if handy) is always good practice.