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Ski Safety Tips

March 14, 2018

Skiing is inherently dangerous, and one of the more dangerous sports we undertake on a regular basis. Although I'm always reminding people that skiing is much safer than driving your car to work, it's still important to be aware of the dangers so we can be vigilant while skiing the slopes. Not only is an accident or an injury painful and a terrible way to spend your vacation, it can also be expensive and sometimes very complicated. No one is ever planning to get hurt but it's important to realize that many of us may be doing things that are indirectly increasing our chances of possibly getting hurt. 

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First and foremost is your gear. A helmet is so important to wear, plus nowadays there are many different styles and colors; and since nearly everyone wears one you don't have to worry about not looking cool either. It's also so important to make sure your skis and your boots fit well and are the right size. Skis that are too long or too short can be ineffective at turning and result in a dangerous accident, boots that don't fit can have similar issues plus more. If your boots are too tight you could damage your nerves and toes, but if they're too loose they could create ankle problems or even worse a broken leg. You also want your ski bindings to be tuned properly to your ski level, height, and weight. If you're not familiar with DIN setting, take your skis to your local ski shop and they'll tune them up for you perfect. If the DIN setting is too high for your level of skiing, they may not pop off your feet during a bad fall and result in an ACL tear. If the DIN setting is too low, your skis may pop off right as you're performing your first high-intensity turn on Claude's Couloir, sending you tumbling into the dangerous rocks below. And don't forget your ski goggles! The sun's light is very strong and damaging to your eyes, and when its reflecting off the snow it's twice as bad, so protect your eyes! I've seen first hand a tourist suffering from snow-blindness, which happens when the eyes are over exposed and actually become sunburned. She could not see and it was very very scary for her; even when assured that her vision would come back, it was an incredibly difficult experience for her. 

Be careful when skiing, there are so many other people around! It's important to always ski defensively, as if you were driving, always on the lookout for out of control skiers. There are rules and laws governing the ski slopes, just like on the highways in your car, and we must obey them. One of the more important rules is that the downhill skier has the right of way. Just like when you're driving a car, it's your job to stay in control and not collide with the skier in front of you. And if you do, you have to stop and exchange information. Or at least make sure everyone is okay and there is no need to exchange information. If you stop on the ski slope, make sure you pull over to the side. And when you're done with your break and ready to get going again, make sure to look uphill before merging into traffic. 


Make sure to ski at your ability level! Remember, Green Circle runs are for beginners, Blue Square runs are for intermediate skiers, and the Black Diamond runs are for advanced skiers. Telluride also has Double-Black and Double-Black EX, taking the rating up another level to Expert Only and Extreme Terrain. Be very careful on the Extreme Terrain, as to gain this rating a run must have 20+ foot cliffs or a pitch steeper than 50 degrees! And make absolutely sure you obey all signs, ropes, and closures. Many closures are there for a reason, and who knows why the roped off powder run you're considering sneaking into is closed. At most resorts it could be as simple as there just isn't enough snow on the ground and Ski Patrol doesn't want you hitting rocks or logs. Or, like at Telluride, it could be avalanche terrain and they are still mitigating the risk using dynamite and sneaking in could put you at severe risk of explosions or avalanches. Dropping any boundary into the backcountry is extremely dangerous at Telluride and the risks are infinite. You could lose your pass, get caught in an avalanche, hit a rock or a tree, get caught on top of a large cliff with no safe exit, or worse. And there is no Ski Patrol to come help you out if you do find yourself in a dangerous situation. So remember to obey all the ropes and closures, and if you have any questions feel free to ask Ski Patrol! They've seen it all, to be sure, so don't feel nervous that your question isn't appropriate. They are there to help!

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