You’re all geared up, you’ve got a few lessons under your belt and you’ve been watching YouTube videos of people shredding fresh powder all week. But are you ready to hit the slopes? Without knowing the correct etiquette on the mountain, you can look like a jerk without meaning to or even worse — get yourself and others injured. Some rules for skiing and snowboarding might seem like common sense, but it can be easy to remain (snow)blind to them until you experience why they exist.
So we’ve created an easy-to-follow checklist to ensure you’re getting the most out of winter sports without taking away from others’ experiences:
- If you fall, get out of the way: Biffing it in the snow is an inevitable part of pushing yourself. No one expects you to flawlessly tackle every run, but don’t continue lying down and blocking the trail for others — get back up when it’s safe and continue down as soon as you can.
- The skier in front has the right of way: Since we aren’t generally born with eyes in the back of our heads, it’s your duty to watch out for people in front of you. Even if it’s not your fault, you’ll get blamed for any accidents that happen with the people in front of you because, well, that’s just the way it works. The boarder/skier in front was there first, so they have the right of way.
- Read and follow all the signs and warnings: Believe it or not, they’re there for a reason! Always put safety first. If that fresh powder on yonder closed trail is calling your name, tell it to be quiet. If a sign says “slow,” it’s probably because the area is filled with beginners who don’t want to (and shouldn’t) get toppled over by speed demons.
- Be a TIC, not a TOC: In other words, be a person who’s Totally In Control, not Totally Out of Control. If you know you can’t handle a run, don’t blast down it with arms a-flailing while putting others in danger. Have a contingency plan if things go awry so you’re always in control of yourself.
- Give fellow skiers (and boarders) plenty of room: This one fits in with the last rule. You can account for yourself, but you never know when the guy next to you is going to go from shredding to unintentional cartwheels. So respect the imaginary bubble of personal space and keep a healthy distance between you and others.
- Look around when you’re crossing or merging trails: When two trails come together, it’s super important to be aware of your surroundings. When joining up with a slope, look uphill and watch out for people bombing down. Sure, the skier in front may technically have the right of way, but maybe that person hasn’t read this helpful article like you have.
- When you get off the lift, get out of the way: Think of the lift as a checkout stand at the grocery store. Be a good little avocado and hop out of the way once you’re scanned, otherwise all the other groceries are going to run into (and bruise) you. The last thing anyone needs is a domino effect of tumbling skiers right before they start a run.
- Be polite in line for the lift: No one likes to have their skis or boards scratched up by someone else’s gear. Allow for a small buffer zone between you and your fellow snow lovers and no one will have to unleash any side-eyes or dirty looks. And if you’re a parent, keep an eye on your little ones because they may not realize they’re stepping on the back of someone else’s skis.
- When all else fails, overcommunicate: You might not know where a skier or snowboarder’s blind spot is. So if you’re unsure, it’s better to risk overcommunicating. Boarders won’t know if you pass them on their backside, so holler a quick “on your back” or “on your left/right” to let them know. Chances are they’ll be grateful for the heads-up.
- Share your table with strangers: If you’ve been to the slopes on the weekend, you know how crowded it can get. So when it’s time to get some food at the lodge, the last thing you want to do is stand while scarfing down your salad or burger. Be the good samaritan who invites the wandering, hungry-eyed strangers over to sit by you.
Whether you’re a seasoned vet or a fresh newbie, it’s good to keep these rules in mind when you’re out there enjoying all that winter has to offer. When all is said and done, being a considerate sportsman may earn you a new friend, and might even save you a trip to the hospital!