A crash course in safety on the slopes!

Slope Safety from AIP

Skiier coming down the hill

We've had our first snowfall here in Calgary, and with that comes the promise that the ski hills will be opening up in the coming weeks. Before you hit the slopes this year, take a moment to remind yourself of some safety tips. Here are a few things to remember when you start to get into skiing and snowboarding again this year.

Before you hit the slopes:

  • Check the weather report. Before you go out skiing or snowboarding, read the weather, road, and snow report so you can prepare for the conditions with appropriate clothing layers and equipment. Plan your travel times and routes accordingly as well.
  • Know your fitness level. A regular exercise routine will help reduce fatigue and injury. If you haven't been working out on a regular basis, make sure you don't push yourself too hard your first outing on the hill.
  • Learn the sport. Beginners should consider taking lessons that including learning how to fall and get back up. Lessons aren't just for beginners though, many ski hills offer refresher courses or skill courses for experienced skiers as well.
  • Dress for the weather. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing and equipment for the sport. Wear bright colors, dress in layers and make sure outerwear is made of fabric that is not only water repellent but slide-resistant. Remember that the elevation of the runs and the speed you're traveling will make it much colder than the temperature at the lodge.
  • Get quality equipment. Improperly fitted or misadjusted gear can cause injury, so it's best to ask for expert advice when purchasing and fitting boots, bindings and skis.

While you are skiing or snowboarding

  • Be aware of your surroundings. It's your responsibility to watch where you're going, and manage the path you're taking. Give skiers in front of you the right of way and watch out for unexpected hazards.
  • Obey the signs. If there are signs saying a run is closed or an area is out of bounds, listen to them. Since these areas are not monitored, there is no way to know what the snow conditions are, and you could be heading into rough terrain, cliffs or other obstacles. A rogue skier could even cause an avalanche in the area.
  • Prevent runaways. Use skis with brakes or a snowboard with a leash to prevent runaway equipment on the hill.
  • Wear a helmet. No matter how good you think you are, accidents happen at any skill level. Even the most experienced skiers and snowboarders take a good spill now and then, and a helmet can make sure that a little tumble doesn't become a bigger problem.
  • Stay hydrated. When you're on the hill, you don't always know how hard you're actually working. This makes it easy to get dehydrated. Bring a water bottle or make frequent stops in the lodge to use the water fountains.
  • Take breaks! Over exerting yourself leads to sloppy form, which can lead to falls and potential injuries.

Following these basic safety tips will go a long way toward making sure you and your family enjoy your first outing on the hill and the entire ski season. Have fun this year on the slopes!