Many people see skiing as the ultimate winter sport. Few other sports combine stunning scenery with the exhilaration and adventure of skiing. But, as with many sports, it does come with some risks. Speed, combined with mountainous terrain are a recipe for injury, but following a few safety rules can help you stay safe on the slopes.
The FIS (International Ski Federation) has established 10 rules of conduct to keep you and others safe on the slopes. Here’s what you need to know (applies to snowboarding too):
The adrenaline rush of skiing means that accidents can happen, but we can minimise accidents and injury to ourselves and others if we all follow the rules. Beginner and inexperienced skiers should especially proceed with caution, and taking note of a few other things can make your experience on the slopes a little safer:
And it may sound strange, but you’ll need to pack sunscreen too. Even though temperatures may be extremely cold, the potential for sunburn can be high. The risk of sunburn is much greater in the mountains because the atmosphere is thinner, and less pollution is present to filter out the sun's harmful UV rays. Snow can reflect almost 90% of UV radiation so rays are much more likely to burn areas such as your chin and nose, which can be extremely painful. Apply sunscreen 30-minutes before you go outside, and carry a small tube in your backpack so you can reapply frequently. Water resistant sunscreen is best in the snow, and take a lip balm too to protect your lips.
Why are there different coloured slopes?
To stay safe while skiing, it’s important to stick to slopes suited to your ability. That’s where the different colours come in. Each ski resort has a rating system that will help you decide whether a particular run is OK for you, or if you need a little more practice first.
European resorts usually have circle-shaped signs to indicate the difficulty of their slopes. Here’s a rundown of what the different colours mean:
The thing to remember is that routes are graded relative to others in the same resort. So if you struggled on a red run, then you might want to give the black run a swerve until you’re feeling more confident.