Is Skiing dangerous? A skiing safety guide for beginners
If you are a beginner or an experienced skier and asking yourself this question, I will explain skiing safety and what you can do to make it safer.
A bit about me, so you can have some confidence I know what I’m talking about: I was lucky enough to learn skiing when I was a kid. I grew up in Alberta Canada and my parents put me on cross-country skis as soon as I could walk. My Dad was a national level Cross Country ski coach and I was enrolled in many lessons. When it came to downhill skiing, we couldn’t go as much as cross-country skiing.
It helped that we lived beside the cross-country ski trails. Looking back, learning how to cross-country ski first was good because I got good on my edges and gained confidence going fast downhill. It was a bit harder for us to go downhill skiing. I remember the few times that we did go, I would follow my Mom slowly down the slopes with my brother behind me doing slow “s” turns. I would only start to get good on downhill skis until my teens.
- Falling, Stopping, Controlling Speed
- Piste Rules
- Ski Patrol
- Is Skiing Safe?
1. Skiing Equipment
First things first, you can enjoy your skiing experience even more by having properly fitted equipment. There is nothing worse than having super sore feet at the end of a ski day due to improperly fitted boots.
Equipment you will need:
- Helmet: Do not forget about one of the most important pieces of equipment! Especially if you are beginning, this will protect your head from any falls that you will experience. Make sure you get a good-fitting helmet.
- Skis: The skis do not need to be top quality for beginners, ask for advice from your local ski store and they can recommend skis for you.
- Poles: Poles can be helpful but for beginners, I would actually recommend skiing without poles. I didn’t use poles until I was in my teens. (This is personal preference)
- Boots: It is a good idea to have properly fitted boots so you can have a comfortable experience. Skiing in comfortable boots will not only make your time more enjoyable, but it can also limit injuries when you fall. The ski store will help you with getting your boot fitted.
- Goggles: You can bring a pair of your own goggles because sometimes rental stores won’t rent goggles.
- Clothing: Dress for the conditions, and wear the right amount of clothing to keep you warm. Bring a waterproof ski jacket, gloves, wool ski socks, base layers/mid layers for top and bottom, and ski pants.
2. Skiing Lessons
It is a good idea to ski with a group of beginners. Book lessons and learn from a qualified ski instructor. The instructor will teach the technique and help your progression. If you are skiing with a friend make sure you choose a friend that you trust and won’t push you outside of your comfort zone.
Practice! Practice! Practice! For the past 2 years, I have been lucky enough to ski over 50 times a year. If you only ski once every year you are not going to progress. Make sure to go enough times in order to progress your skiing ability until you are confident enough to ski on your own. I met a friend who skied with me last season.
She started the season as a beginner but she skied 3-4 times a week. By the end of the season, she was skiing with me as I would normally ski, doing runs that she couldn’t do at the beginning of the season.
3. Skiing Weather Conditions
Keep an eye on the weather for the day and dress for it. Check the website of the mountain to get the conditions updated. The website will update you about what the piste conditions are like and will give you any warnings. The website will also let you know about what runs and lifts are open. Do not ski in whiteout conditions to risk getting vertigo and getting lost. Be cautious when it is hard to pack conditions. This means the piste will be icy and it will be harder to ski. If you can’t stop, avoid skiing where the piste is icy.
4. Falling when skiing
As you are starting out you are likely to have your first fall. Falling is totally normal and even the most experienced skiers fall. If you are skiing with an instructor the instructor will teach you how to fall and how to get back up properly. Do not be embarrassed and take it as a learning opportunity.
Learn how to control your speed: I love pizza (the food) but this is the term used for when you are starting to learn how to control your speed. If you are with an instructor you will likely be doing pizza “S” turns. Keep practicing this until you are ready for fries.
Your instructor will be teaching you how to stop properly. This is probably the most important step as it will decrease your amount of falling. You will slowly gain confidence the more you practice and be patient with yourself.
5. Piste Rules
If you are skiing in North America there will be Green, Blue, and Black colored runs. Greens are the easiest so start here if you are beginning, blue is for intermediate, and black/ double black is the hardest.
If you are skiing in Europe there will be Blue, Black, and Red. Blue is for beginners, Black is for intermediates and Red is the hardest.
Obey any warning signs that the patrol put out. Stay on the Piste for beginners. If it is a low visibility day stay in between the markers on the piste.
If it is a busy day on the slopes you might get nervous with all the fast skiers around you. If you need to stop, make sure to stop where oncoming skiers can see you. Make your turns predictable so oncoming skiers can ski around you.
IS SKIING DANGEROUS?
Overall Skiing has been getting safer. On average there are 20-40 ski deaths per year according to the National Ski Areas Association. Skiing is generally safe for beginners if you take all the necessary precautions. Do not push yourself and stay in your comfort zone. As some people start to gain confidence they start to do stupid things and push themselves, this is when serious accidents and injuries can happen. Be smart and stay within your abilities.
OTHER SKIING TIPS: