It’s finally here. The time of year many Coloradoans eagerly await like a small child waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas eve. Snow has fallen in the mountains, the snow making machines are up and running and the ski slopes are finally open.
Along with joy of shredding the half-pipe or schussing down a pristine white slope, comes a certain amount of risk and an obligation to be courteous to others enjoying the slopes. Many of us don’t even think about these risks – we grew up on skis – we’re not going to be injured, right? Common sense and personal awareness can make your day skiing or snowboarding a safe and positive experience for yourself and for those sharing the slopes with you.
According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), an average 38 people have died each year snowboarding or skiing over the past 10 years. There are about 42 serious injuries, including paralysis and serious head injuries per year.
Given the total estimated number of 57.4 million skiers and snowboarder days per year in the 2008/2009 season, the number of deaths and injuries are quite small. However, at Bachus & Schanker, we believe any deaths or injuries are too many.
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself while skiing or snowboarding is to use a helmet. In its annual Demographic Study, NSAA found that:
– 77 percent of children 9 years old or younger wear ski helmets
– 66 percent of children between 10 and 14 wear ski helmets
– 63 percent of adults over the age of 65 wear ski helmets
– Helmet usage by skiers and boarders aged 18 to 24 is currently 32 percent, representing a 78 percent increase in usage for this age group since the 2002/03 season, when only 18 percent wore helmets.
Here are some skiing/snowboarding safety tips from NSAA:– Take a lesson. Like anything, you’ll improve the most when you receive some guidance. The best way to become a good skier or snowboarder is to take a lesson from a qualified instructor.
– The key to successful skiing/snowboarding is control. To have it, you must be aware of your technique, the terrain and the skiers/snowboarders around you. Be aware of the snow conditions and how they can change. As conditions turn firm, the skiing gets hard and fast. Begin a run slowly.
– Skiing and snowboarding require a mental and physical presence.
– If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side step down the slope.
– The all-important warm-up run prepares you mentally and physically for the day ahead.
– Drink plenty of water. Be careful not to become dehydrated.
– Curb alcohol consumption. Skiing and snowboarding do not mix well with alcohol or drugs.
– Know your limits. Learn to ski and snowboard smoothly – and in control. Stop before you become fatigued and, most of all have fun.
– If you’re tired, stop skiing. In this day and age of multi-passenger gondolas and high-speed chairlifts, you can get a lot more time on the slopes compared to the days of the past when guests were limited to fixed grip chairlifts.
– Follow the “Your Responsibility Code,” the seven safety rules of the slopes:
1. Always stay in control.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
7. Know how to use the lifts safely.
Let’s all be more safety conscience and courteous to other and help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the Colorado slopes this season.