Downhill skiing in the mountains is by far the most popular activity in terms of the number of practitioners.
This means that there are many people sharing the space and there is a considerable risk of accidents if one does not show consideration and respect of everyone’s right to safety on the slope. A collision on the slope can cause life-threatening injuries.
Rules for safety’s sake
- Anyone coming down must yield to those further down on the slope. Keep your eyes out, have some foresight and ski with a wide margin!
- If you stop on the slope, stop in a place where you are clearly visible.
- Do not cross the path of the lift. And of course, respect closures, signs and warning poles.
Straight path on the lift
Bad accidents have happened when people have jumped off the lift at the wrong place. The lift hook can catch on a lift pole or bounce up and get stuck in the lift line, which pops out and falls down. The same thing can happen if one zigzags on the path of the lift.
- Ski straight under the lift line.
- Get off the hook only at marked dismount sites.
- Leave the dismount site immediately. Otherwise, you will make it difficult for those behind you.
Tether belt or stopper on snowboards
A snowboard previously did not have an equivalent of a ski stopper. But there are now also boards with stoppers. Anyone snowboarding must have a stopper or a long tether belt. A lost snowboard on the slope can otherwise become a life-threatening projectile. The tether belt should b long enough that you can carry your board without loosening the tether.
Anyone who breaks the rules can have their lift card revoked and be temporarily banned from the facility.
Marking of slopes
The slopes are marked by colour on the slope and on the piste map.
- Green = very easy
- Blue = easy
- Red = intermediate
- Black = difficult
It may be tempting to stand on a green slope, but it is not allowed. There, one must count on there being many unaccustomed skiers. Plan your skiing so that you do not end up on a slope that is too hard by mistake.
There are two kinds of edge markings: Poles with a cylinder on the top that has green on one side and red on the other. Stay on the green side. On the red side, there may be rocks or other obstacles, cliffs or areas in danger of avalanches. Orange poles of the same type as are on the road edges in winter are also used as edge markings. Warning poles are striped in black and yellow. They are placed, for example, where the snow cover is too thin, or at obstacles of some kind.
Fire and rescue
Green signs with a white image symbol stand for protection and rescue. They mark out places for e.g. first aid equipment, emergency phones, emergency stop for the lift and rescue equipment. Red signs with a white image symbol mark out places for rescue equipment for fire, e.g. fire extinguishers and fire alarms.
The right equipment
The skis’ bindings must be set to your weight and skiing ability. Do not borrow skis without checking the bindings’ settings to avoid injuries.
How to make an easy check:
- Put one ski on: Kick with “half strength” with the other ski boot’s heel on the inside of the toe part of the foot in the binding. The foot should then be hit out of the binding.
- If you lean forward over the poles, you should be able to pull your heel out of the binding. But be careful not to injure your calf or Achille’s tendon. The safest is to have the ski store check and set the binding. Keep a hold of the pole.
The most common kind of injury when downhill skiing is a thumb injury. The thumb is broken when we fall down and catch ourselves against the snow with the pole in an open hand. Keep your grip around the pole and catch yourself with a closed hand. Then you will keep from spraining your thumb.
Feel free to use a helmet to avoid head injuries.
The cold increases the risks
Cold muscles are stiff muscles. If you are cold and freezing, you ski worse and run a greater risk of getting pulled muscles and other injuries. So layer up if you want to ski better. At just -4 degrees, half of the body’s heat lost goes through the head – if you do not have a hat. It does not help if you are well dressed otherwise.
Wind and head wind increases the cold. This means that you can get frostbite in the face even if it is not so cold. You recognise frostbite by the skin turning white and feeling stiff. You have to be sure to get into the warmth!
Watch your eyes
Strong cold and head wind can damage the eyes. Ski goggles reduce this risk. Sunglasses or ski goggles that filter out the ultraviolet light protect against snow blindness. They are usually marked with “UV protection” or the like. Snow blindness occurs when the eye is subjected to too much ultraviolet light. The first symptoms feel like “sand” in the eyes, which also become very sensitive to light. It is not just in the sunshine that one is at risk of snow blindness. The risk is also extensive even in fog, snowfall and cloudy weather that entails greater strain on the eyes.
Properly clothed on the slope
First warm and sweaty after an active run where one works the whole time. Then still in the lift in an ice-cold wind. Downhill skiing demands good clothes. Material that transports away moisture closest to the body so that one stays dry. On top of this, one or more layers that provide warmth. Furthest out, a layer that is wind proof and moisture repellent.
High speeds and a lot of people on the slope. Downhill skiing demands good balance, sharp senses and quick reactions. Reacting half a second too late can lead to broken bones for you or somebody else.
Save the last run for tomorrow
Don’t take the last run is a figure of speech in skiing circles. When the skis begin to flutter or the board decides too much on its own, it is time to stop for the day. When your legs begin to get a little shaky and do not really have the strength to hold up, the risk of getting hurt is the greatest.