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Skiing Etiquette to Ensure Safety

Skiing is another sport in which the rules of etiquette are inextricably bound to safety.

Dress Appropriately

No matter how adorable (or ruggedly casual) your outfit is, you will look stupid if your attire is not appropriate to the slopes. Your clothing should not only keep you warm but also resist water and wind. The outfit must be snug while allowing you freedom of movement. Jeans are a bad idea because they don't dry out easily. They stay wet and cold and heavy.

Faux Pas

Don't forget the sunblock. Even when the weather is cold, the sun can damage your skin. In fact, sun reflecting off snow can cause a nasty burn.

Layering is essential. A cotton turtleneck, long underwear, sweater, ski pants, ski jacket, and a hat or cap are good choices. Wear a pair of thin socks under heavy ski socks. Goggles are more durable than sunglasses. Outer ski wear is bright and colorful so that other skiers can see you easily against the snow.

Basic Rules of Manners

Basic rules of politeness start with the T-bar or chairlift. Stay in your place in the lift line. If you're alone, offer to ride the lift with another single to avoid breaking up couples or groups. While in line, hold your skis upright in front of you to avoid whacking your neighbors. If it's your first experience with lifts, stand back and watch how the boarding procedure works before you get aboard. At the top, clear the lift area immediately so as not to cause a traffic jam.

Beginners should take some lessons before attempting the slopes. The sport only looks easy. In fact, the first experience with skis, boots, and poles can make even the most graceful individual feel like a klutz.

Experienced skiers should not boast or make remarks about the skill levels of the less experienced.

Rules of the Trails

Skiing is one of the most dangerous sports. Great care and attention to the rules are vitally important. When hitting the slopes, remember these critical points:

  • Regardless of your ability, never ski alone. Anyone can fall, get a cramp, or break a piece of equipment. If you get hurt or stuck and no one is around to assist you, it's just you and the mountain and the weather—a potentially deadly combination. And if nobody knows where you are, no one can come to get you.
  • Never ski on a closed trail. First, it might be closed because of dangerous conditions. Second, it might be closed in preparation for a special event. Third, the ski patrol does not watch closed trails.
  • Ski only on trails that match your ability level. If you want the challenge of moving up to a more difficult trail, have an instructor or expert skier with you and don't try it during peak hours. Novices on expert trails endanger themselves and the more skilled skiers. Experts on novice trails panic beginners by whizzing past them. Look for these trail markers:
      Green circle for novices
      Blue square for intermediates
      Black diamond for experts
  • The slower skier in front of you always has the right of way. If you are going to pass the slower skier, yell “track right” or “track left,” depending on which side you will pass. You want to warn the other skier against turning into your path.
  • If you're climbing on skis or on foot, stay well over to the edge of the trail. The same applies if you decide to walk down.
  • Mountains are large. It's a good idea to select a particular spot to check in with your friends periodically rather than relying on the chance of encountering each other randomly.

If you come upon an injured skier, remove the victim's skis, but never his or her boots. Mark the spot with crossed skis or poles. Don't attempt to move the person. You may aggravate an injury. Wait for another skier to come along before you go for help. Mark the spot well in your mind so that you will be able to lead the ski patrol to the victim.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette © 2004 by Mary Mitchell. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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