The winter season draws thousands to the slopes of Colorado’s world-class ski resorts each year. While fresh powder and bluebird days bring joy, injuries can also unexpectedly occur and skier safety is important!
At Axis Sports Medicine, we see plenty of skiers eager to hit the slopes but end up with sprains, strains, and broken bones. That’s why we’re proud to support National Skier Safety Month, a campaign dedicated to promoting safe skiing practices and educating skiers of all ages about injury prevention.
This January, we are excited to bring awareness to National Skier Safety Month and help promote a culture of safety on the slopes.
Whether you’re an experienced skier or just starting out, it’s important to understand the risks involved with skiing and how to prevent injuries. While accidents can happen, following these simple safety guidelines can greatly reduce your chances of getting hurt while skiing.
What Is National Skier Safety Month?
So, what exactly is National Skier Safety Month? It’s an annual campaign organized by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) in partnership with ski resorts across the country. The goal is to educate skiers about safe skiing practices and raise awareness about common injuries and how to prevent them.
Skier and Rider Responsibilities
Every skier and rider has a duty to maintain control and avoid other people on the mountain. Pay attention to trail signage and ski within your ability level. Do not stop in blind spots or areas with limited visibility.
Always yield to skiers downhill and let faster skiers pass you. If you’re unsure how difficult a trail is, start cautiously until you evaluate it – this will help you avoid getting in over your head!
Terrain Park Safety
Another key aspect of safe skiing is knowing how to approach terrain parks. These areas are designated for more advanced skiers and riders, and it’s important to understand the features and jumps before attempting them.
Never go through a terrain park without proper knowledge and experience. Inspect jumps and features before using terrain parks – and always follow posted signs and start small before progressing to larger features. This helps you avoid potential injuries and allows you to assess the difficulty of each feature.
Lifts are easy, right? Think again! When loading lifts, make sure restraint bars are fully lowered, securing you in the chair. Do not adjust restraint bars during the ride; keep extremities away from lift towers.
Unload points are a common area for accidents to occur. Make sure you have the proper knowledge and experience before unloading from a lift. Pay attention to lift operators and follow their instructions closely. If you’re unsure about anything, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance!
Helmet Safety and Usage
Wearing a helmet is essential for all skiers and riders. Ensure your helmet fits properly and the chin strap secures it securely.
Well-fit helmets reduce impact on the head during falls and collisions. While helmets protect from skull fractures and head injuries, they cannot eliminate concussions. Still, data shows helmets reduce head injuries by 30-50%, so always wear a helmet!
Even on seemingly quiet days, avalanches can occur. Always stay aware of changing avalanche conditions based on new-fallen snow, wind transport, and temperature fluctuations.
Only ski out-of-bound areas with proper avalanche training, gear, and knowledge of terrain and conditions. If you plan to ski any non-groomed, backcountry terrain, carry an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel. Sign up for avalanche education courses to learn to make smart decisions.
Deep Snow Safety
Tree wells and deep snow immersion accidents lead to suffocation risks. Stick to groomed trails after big snowfalls before patrols can clear tree wells. Do not ski too closely to tree areas, and avoid flipping in deep snow if you fall. Bright clothing can help rescuers find you in an emergency.
In addition to avalanche safety, it is also important to be aware of deep snow conditions and the risks they present. Tree wells, which are holes or depressions around the base of trees, can pose a serious threat to skiers and snowboarders. When there is deep snow, these tree wells can become hidden traps that can lead to suffocation if someone falls in and becomes stuck.
Learn More About Skier Safety with Axis This Winter
To help skiers and riders learn more about skiing safety, our team at Axis Sports Medicine will be hosting a safety tent at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area NSAA Safety Village from January 27th to 28th.
Stop by to speak with injury prevention specialists about terrain use, gear checks, preparing your body for ski season, and more ski safety education. Together, we can make sure you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable experience on the slopes this winter.
See you on the slopes!