Preventing Injuries and Accidents While Skiing

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.

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Iconic Skiing Experiences Everyone Should Try

Originally posted on SeanCarothers.org

Choosing a ski destination can vary greatly depending on your needs and what you may be looking for. Taking your family skiing, for example, may require you to seek out more local spots, or those designed for younger children. Skiing solo may compel you to seek out ski resorts far and wide, thus bringing up the issue of price. However, the following experiences should be considered by ski enthusiasts all over the world for a truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Heli-Skiing in Canada

While this may be reserved for more tenured skiers, heli-skiing is an incredible way to get up close and personal with some of the most secluded resorts in the world. In Canada specifically, heli-skiing and snowboarding is a wildly popular activity that can be found all over the country. There is no adrenaline rush quite like jumping out of a helicopter, and what better place to do it than in the countryside of one of the snowiest places on Earth?

Finland’s Famous Resorts

Alpine skiing in mountainous Finland is unlike any other winter experience in the world. As one of the most breathtaking European countries, Finland is full of icy forests, enormous lakes, and, of course, mountains that seem to go on forever. As an added bonus, many of the resorts around the country are generally uncrowded, the slopes of which are often suited for skiers of all skill levels.

Finland provides its visitors with more than just skiing, as well. Some of these include reindeer safaris, dogsledding, snowmobiles, and visiting one of the many downtown areas. If you plan to schedule your visit accordingly, you can even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Luxury Skiing in France

Val d’Isere is typically regarded as one of the top winter sports resorts in all of Europe, and for good reason. The resort is full of wine cellars, gourmet restaurants, movie theatres, outdoor hot-tubs, and campfire locations for family members of all ages. For skiers who want a little more pamper included in their trip, Val d’Isere is the perfect destination. The skiing itself is comparable to its culture; rich and bountiful, considering that it is still located in the mountains of France.

Journeying Japan

Most of the ski resorts found throughout Japan accumulate some of the deepest snow in the world. Niseko, specifically, is one of the most well known resorts in the country, averaging 11 meters of snowfall every year. This enormous ski town contains an array of slopes ranging from bunny hills to black diamonds, and even off-piste runs through winding trees and rocks. If the weather proves too warm for snow, the resort allows for some incredibly scenic hiking as well.

Heli-Skiing: An Overview of the Sport

Originally published on SeanCarothers.org

Ski enthusiasts around the world are very familiar with this extreme sport, but for those who may not have the same amount of experience, ‘heli-skiing’ can seem like a terrifying idea. While you don’t have to necessarily jump out of a helicopter from great heights, you do have to ride one to reach truly remarkable slopes, which many would argue is well worth the trip.

Heli-skiing allow skiers and snowboarders alike to access hard-to-reach areas for some truly adventurous downhill riding. These untouched slopes make for a unique experience in that many skiers are the first to ever reach them, and by helicopter to add to the excitement. The sights at these destinations are unlike any other, giving skiers bird’s-eye views of their surroundings, and a perspective of the mountains that is not attainable at any other point.

Derived from the actual word “helicopter,” heli-skiing (and heli-boarding) first began in 1960s Canada when hikers and skiers began to seek out new adventures, eventually stumbling upon the Canadian Rockies. This spawned the use of helicopters to access theses areas more quickly and conveniently for those wishing to ski down their enormous slopes.

Hans Gmoser is widely regarded as the founder of heli-skiing. He first began offering guided tours throughout the Canadian Rockies in 1965, and soon thereafter began to take advantage of helicopters to provide his guests with the most stunning views possible. He then created his heli-skiing business Canadian Mountain Holidays, which has since become the leading company in the heli-skiing world. CMH now operates out of 11 resorts around western Canada.

Today, heli-skiing is popular in countries all over the world. Italy, Chile, New Zealand, and the U.S. have all embraced this unique sport thanks to the mountainous regions of their respective borders. However, heli-skiing is prohibited in a few countries, those being Germany, Switzerland, and France due to conservationists claiming the use of helicopters is harmful to the environment and the mountains. The argument against this is that helicopters are accessing remote areas away from crowds and wildlife, leaving little impact on the environment. While this drums up some controversy, the sport itself remains a highly sought after adventure for winter sports enthusiasts everywhere.

Those attracted to extreme sports are constantly looking for new thrills, and heli-skiing is one of many ways skiers can satisfy that craving. While many resorts offer off-piste skiing areas and access to newer slopes, there is nothing quite like skiing down the side of a mountain unreachable by foot.

Proper Etiquette on the Slopes

You may have heard about the “Skier Responsibility Code” if you’re new to downhill skiing, but you might not know exactly what that means. While your ski instructor will hopefully give you a few pointers about safety and etiquette, many novice skiers are in the dark about the finer details regarding the code. As a result, they often come off as inconsiderate to other skiers without realizing it.

First of all, let’s take a look at the “Skier Responsibility Code.”

  • Stay in control and be prepared to stop or avoid other people and obstacles.
  • Avoid those ahead of you. They have the right of way.
  • Never stop on a trail or where you aren’t visible from above.
  • Yield to others uphill before starting downhill or merging onto a trail.
  • Use proper devices to avoid losing equipment.
  • Stay out of prohibited areas.
  • Do not use the lift unless you have the knowledge and ability to do so safely.

It is your responsibility to know this code and to follow it. Fortunately, this should be posted in some form at every ski resort. The wording may be different depending on where you go, but the rules will remain the same.

Skiing and Riding Courtesy

In addition to following the responsibility code, you should keep the following courtesy guidelines in mind wherever you go downhill skiing.

  • Never wave your poles around or plant them on someone else’s skis or board. Children are the biggest offenders here, but some irresponsible adults have been known to accidentally hit or poke someone else with a wayward pole.
  • Give novice or younger skiers some extra room. Nobody likes a jerk who intimidates newbies by showing off.
  • Help people in need. Accidents happen to the best skiers, and you’ll never know when someone will need some medical attention. Either help a fallen skier up yourself or find someone who can.
  • Wait in line with your group if you all want to ride the ski lift together. A clustered ski lift can be extremely dangerous.
  • Don’t smoke when you’re riding the lift. You may be outdoors, but you’re still too close to people who might not appreciate it.
  • Throw your trash in the appropriate receptacle. Don’t just leave it on the ground. The slopes take pride in their cleanliness and aesthetic.

Source: https://blog.liftopia.com/riding-skiing-etiquette-slopes/

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Fitness Perks Earned on the Slopes

Like all sports, skiing comes with an array of health benefits from the constant movement and muscular demand, but it isn’t seen as a great exercise too often. Those with a very basic understanding of skiing may not know just how beneficial this sport truly is. That being said, people of all ages can enjoy a day on the slopes while taking advantage of both the physical and mental health benefits of skiing. Below are just a few of many.

Improved Strength and Coordination

As many skiers know, balance is crucial in staying upright whilst traversing the snowy slopes. The more you ski and begin to better understand the mechanics of it, the more your balance and coordination improves. You will learn to adjust each ski individually to better navigate varying terrains, and build muscle doing so, thus strengthening those necessary to stay up and prevent any injuries sustained from falling. The constant squat position you’ll find yourself in greatly strengthens your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves as well.

Your bones are also strengthened from these movements, as the weight that that they bear upon downhill skiing helps them adjust to the constant pressure, which can prevent knee and ankle injuries. This directly translates to a decreased chance of developing osteoporosis later in life.

Increased Positivity

It’s hard to envision someone skiing with a frown on their face. Enjoying the slopes and surrounding scenery is quite a sight, and taking it all in can actually improve mental health. Allowing your mind to escape from reality for a day comes with a plethora of positive thoughts, and can help develop a more optimistic mindset in all facets of your life.

Cardiovascular Endurance

Skiing is an aerobic activity that requires a great deal of endurance if one is to last an entire day on the slopes. Continued activity and practice can build your endurance, leading to a higher metabolic rate. Though it may seem a bit extreme for some, another great way to build your endurance for skiing is by actually walking back up the slope rather than taking the lift.

Better Sleep

Most people have probably experienced the sheer exhaustion that follows an intense workout, especially one that engages nearly every muscle in the body. Skiing does just that, which often leads to a longer, deeper sleep at the end of the day. With a better night’s sleep comes a better mood the next day as well, making this sport an endless cycle of positivity.

Defining Different Types of Ski Slopes

One of the most important aspects of skiing to understand before hitting the slopes is the terminology, and slope symbols. Less experienced skiers may not understand this system, which could lead to a catastrophic mistake in traversing a highly advanced course that they aren’t prepared to handle. Before choosing a trail, make sure you are able to recognize and understand which is safest for you.

Slope signs first began in the mid-1960s to better regulate skiers and protect them from unexpected courses or terrain. Since then, these have become a staple in winter sports safety for skiers and snowboarders across the world (after a few color disparities between countries).

Green Circles

These indicate the easiest slopes on the mountain. They tend to be very wide to accommodate for beginners with very slight slope gradients to prevent high speeds. Green slopes also typically have completely flat surfaces with no difficult terrain.

Blue Squares

For skiers and snowboarders that have surpassed the level of beginner but are still somewhat cautious, blue square trails are perfect for an easy, yet slightly steeper ride. They do however, tend to be the most crowded, as most skiers on the mountain are at this level of experience. Note that depending on where in the world you are skiing, these can still be significantly more difficult than green circle trails.

Black Diamond

Here’s where things start to get even more difficult. Black diamond slopes have much deeper gradients than their green and blue neighbors, and sometimes come with moguls or difficult terrain. It is suggested that only winter sport enthusiasts with a great deal of experience navigate these tricky runs.

Double Black Diamond

As the name suggests, these are considerably more difficult than single black diamond trails. Leave these to the ski and snowboard experts. Double black diamonds come with dangerous terrain that can only be navigated by those who have been hitting the slopes for their entire lives, such as cliffs, trees, and moguls, not to mention the extremely steep gradients that are often used for heli skiing.

Triple Black Diamond

Not every ski resort in the world has these, but those with extremely tall mountain ranges will sometimes take advantage of the natural terrain and give skiers and snowboarders access to the incredibly steep runs that they provide. Triple black diamonds are, without question, for experts only. The extreme heights and cliffs are often coupled with enormous boulders, woodland areas, and dangerous conditions that can even the deter the most seasoned veterans.

The symbols mentioned above are there for your safety. Depending on your skiing experience, choose the trail that is safest for you, and try not to venture onto more difficult terrain until you are confident enough that you’ve gained the skills necessary to do so.

Essential Ski Accessories to Boost Your Performance

If you’re looking to take your skiing performance to the next level, look no further. The following are some essential ski accessories that will elevate your time on the slopes to the next level.

Custom Insoles

This technical advancement will really take your ski game to new heights. Technicians in the ski store will take a scan of your foot, get an idea for your skiing ability, and use the info to create a custom insole to place inside your skiing boot. This will make your skiing both more comfortable and more effective. The biggest advantage you’ll notice is that it is more comfortable to lean on your edges while turning, and it doesn’t wear out your boots as much when doing so.

Hands-Free Water Supply

If you find yourself at a ski resort that encompasses multiple peaks into one long run, thirst can definitely play a role in hindering your skiing performance, even amidst all that frozen water. A Zoid Camelbak wearable water supply is the perfect accessory to make sure you stay fully hydrated on the slopes. With a leak-proof straw design and a lightweight molded shape that fits right under your heavy layers, this water pack is the way to go. Just pack an energy snack to go along with it, and you’re ready to tackle any run, no matter how daunting it may seem.

Durable Socks

To keep your feet warm and comfortably dry while on the slopes, the right pair of socks are a must-have. Socks made specially for the slopes will have just the right amount of padding on the heel, while also sporting built-in ventilation and moisture-wicking technology. But most importantly, the right pair of skiing socks will stay in place the whole day and never slip or slide. There’s nothing more annoying than having to adjust your socks under all those layers after one run down the hill.

The Boot Warmer
For those looking for the ultimate comfort while out on the slopes, consider grabbing the Hotronic FootWarmer S4. These foot warmers fit with any make of sole, and allow you to attach the heat control either onto your boot or your waistband. There’s nothing worse than frozen toes out on the ski slopes, which is why this is a great accessory to make sure your feet stay warm and toasty for up to 21 hours per charge.