Ever wondered about ski resort etiquette? We have put together modern riders guide to the do's & don'ts.
The world of skiing and snowboarding is our heaven and happy place. We love the mountains, the villages, the sport and the people. We should want to protect the sanctity of our sport, ourselves and fellow riders. To do this, there should be some simple rules of etiquette that should be established and followed, to ensure we can keep riding blissfully and the mountains remain as our untainted love. So we have put together some simple do’s and don’ts in a ski resort, which essentially require a little mindfulness and courtesy but ensure we stay safe and look after each other. These rules are not to take the fun out of skiing and boarding (granted that would be VERY difficult), but to protect the fun.
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Obviously, given the nature of the sport and the perilous mountain, it is always safety first, but then second, is respect for those around you. The don’ts are mainly to stay safe out there and the do’s are small and helpful ways to look after your fellow riders and the incredible mountain.
For some of the newbies out there, these rules may be new tips but for others, this list is a gentle reminder… (you know who you are).
This may be a long time ago for some, but cast your mind back to when you first strapped in your board or skis. We can bet you weren’t always an incredible and fearless rider, there surely was an initial uncertainty, fear and panic. For those just starting out their adventure on the mountain, young or old, they may need some time to overcome the nerves. Beginners need space and to feel like they are in a safe environment. So for those who are confident and able skiers and boarders (who have an element of control of their feet/ direction), then it’s best practice to slow down past beginners and give them a wide girth on the piste. They may not always be easy to spot, but look out for the pizza and the french fries, especially when on the greens and blues.
The boarders out there will be thanking us for this, so essentially this is a PSA (public service announcement) to all skiers: try to avoid skiing up close or cutting up a boarder on their blindside- they can not see you.
Borders are mostly facing in one direction and this means that they have a blindside, so they will not see anyone who comes up behind them. This is a potential collision situation if the boarder suddenly changes direction or you startle them. Be mindful of others on the mountain, as you would driving a car on the road.
This perhaps is a shoutout to both beginners and experts, as the middle of a piste can often be dominated by the slow and the fast. If you are a beginner and still parallel skiing or having to take long, wide turns, be mindful of who is trying to get past you. Take your wide turns, but don’t focus your efforts down the middle of the piste, especially if it’s narrow. For those who have no problem with picking up speed, imagine the middle of the piste as an overtaking lane. The main point here is being mindful of where you position yourself, so that you have the room to do your thing, whilst not getting in the way of others.
Whilst we’re on the topic of the middle of the piste, try not stop in the middle. As we have discovered, there is an importance in where you locate yourself and this includes when stopping. To ensure that people behind you can expect your next move and can avoid you as you slow down, the best thing is to keep to the edges of the piste when stopping. This also means that you and the crew can gather together before heading back off again.
The same goes for if you stop at the top of a piste, try avoid stopping just below the top as you may be unseen by those heading in your direction. We are picturing a pile-on of skiers and boarders, and it’s not a pretty sight.
No matter how good you are at skiing or boarding you are most likely going to take a tumble at some point. Some may be a graceful slide and you are back up again, whilst others might be a comedy image of you flying through the air, skis or board going in the opposite direction and you end up at the bottom of the piste with no idea. You know the feeling well, so when you see someone else fall it’s always the best courtesy to check on them, even if it looks like a minor fall. Help them back up again and try reunite them with their belongings if they are found scattered across the mountain. If things are more serious, it goes without saying to call the local emergency line.
Unfortunately, queuing is the inevitable chore of each ski trip, especially during peak weeks, so the least we can do is make this experience as courteous as possible. If you are with friends and want to ride the lifts with them- so you can chat about the best runs, who the hottie in the chair behind you is and take selfies- then step to the side and allow smaller groups to go on before you. If possible, whilst queueing, gather the troops from the two outer sides of the queue and ease in when at the front. This way you aren’t stopping the flow of the queue, which is essential when it’s busy.
If you have stopped at the side of the piste to catch a breath or wait for your crew, then you must be mindful before setting off again. Make sure to glance back up the mountain for oncoming traffic of skiers and boarders and wait for a gap before setting back off. The people coming down can’t predict your actions, so if they are coming up close to you they may not be able to stop or swerve in time when you come out in front.
If you are an experienced skier or boarder and seek the thrills of more than just the slopes, you will most likely need to head further afield to the unpatrolled and unpisted areas. Although fun, exhilarating and challenging, the off-piste and backcountry areas of the mountain are also some of the most dangerous. To ensure the safety of yourself and of others in case of an avalanche, you must always be prepared with an avalanche kit in your rucksack. Having your shovel, probe and transceiver in your bag (switched on) will mean that in the case of an emergency, your crew can locate you if you are buried, or they can find you. Obviously this only works if everyone you are with also have their safety kit, as a transceiver is slightly pointless on its own. Check with your crew before you head off-piste, planned or unplanned that they have the necessary gear, if someone doesn’t then make the decision to not go off-piste that day, it should be that simple.
Why is it necessary to check uphill before setting off?
Checking uphill before setting off ensures you do not accidentally move into the path of oncoming skiers or snowboarders. This simple act could help in preventing collisions.
What is the most important rule in ski resort etiquette?
Safety is paramount when it comes to ski resort etiquette. This includes respecting all marked signs and barriers, maintaining control and speed appropriate for your skill level, and being thoughtful about where and when you stop on the slopes.
The mountain is an extraordinary place and will make some of the best memories and experiences for those who venture out there. But as we have established, we can’t just point down the mountain with our skis or board and not pay attention to what’s around you. The mountains are equally a dangerous place and unfortunately, people can get injured and in some case badly hurt, so by being mindful and paying attention, this can help you and everyone else stay a little safer. Following some simple rules can make the resort a welcoming place for the beginners and a fun place for the seasoned pros.
As snowsports become increasingly more popular and attract more and more tourists to resorts, the need for etiquette becomes more important. Of course, it only really works if everyone follows the rules, but you can now be the guide and the leader and people will follow.