This year winter has been unusually warm and a lot of ski resorts are just now opening up. Your family, friends and co-workers may be pushing you to go skiing with them, but you have never put on a pair of skies in your life. You've watched skiing on T.V. and it looks easy enough, so why not give it a try!
Each year there are thousands of injuries associated with skiing accidents. So before you take that first run down that expert slope, keep these safety tips in mind:
1. Exercise in advance. You will have more fun on the slopes if you're in good shape. Skiing takes a lot of energy, so if you have not exercised, take it easy until you get in shape for longer times on the snow, don't rush it.
2. Prepare for the weather. Wear layers of clothes and make sure you have a good base layer that moves moisture away from the body. Gloves and a facemask will keep you warm and help make your skiing experience enjoyable.
3. Wear an approved ski helmet. A good helmet not only keeps your ears warm, but also protects you from a serious head injury.
4. Rent good equipment if you do not own your own. Today's skis have made skiing so much easier than the skis ten to twenty years ago. The technology has changed and in most cases, a first time skier will be able to ski the green trails by the end of the first day. Most rental places will also make sure the equipment is adjusted to the skier's ability. Be honest when asked about your skiing ability because the binding are set to release at certain pressure and angles.
5. Take a break. If you're tired, take a break and rest for a while in the lodge. While you're resting, make sure you eat and drink enough. Skiing burns a lot of energy and at the end of the day if you have the urge to take that one last run don't! There are plenty of days left to ski, but pushing your limits, only leads to injury. If you are tired, it's better to quit while you're ahead and save your energy for next time.
6. Take a Lesson. Sign up for ski lessons. Even experienced skiers polish up their skills with a lesson now and then. Remember it is difficult for you to see how you are skiing and a trained professional can probably fix a bad turn in minutes.
7. Respect your limits. This is one of the biggest problems on the slopes and gets many skiers in trouble. Know the trail system where you are skiing and stay on the appropriate trails. For example if you are a beginner, stay on a beginner trail. Do not be talked into skiing a more advanced slope! Trails will be clearly marked (Green, Blue or Black Diamond) as to what level skier they are appropriate for.
8. Follow the rules. Do not go off-trail. Many skiers who have ventured off marked trails have been seriously hurt or killed. Remember if you are not on a trail, you may not be reported to the appropriate authority until someone from you group reports you missing. It will get cold on the slopes at night, after the resort closes! Obey posted trail closure and other warning signs. They are there for a reason. Also remember that skiers who are in front of you, and below you, on the trail have the right-of-way. It is your responsibility to avoid them, not for them to avoid you.
Have a great day on the slope, but keep the above Safety Tips in mind.