A Beginner’s Guide To The Perfect Skiing Etiquette

By France Skiing,

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Learning To SkiWe love skiing.  We love the feeling you get when you’re gliding along the snow.  We love the atmosphere in the après-ski bars.  We love curling up at the end of the day in our catered ski chalet.

Here at Simply Your Holidays, we have been skiing for several years now and we all feel particularly confident in our ability.  However, we can all still remember what it was like when we put on our skis for the very first time and headed to the nursery slopes.

Making a fair few mistakes, we learnt several of the ‘rules’ as we went along.  Obviously not ideal, we could have really benefited from some advice on the etiquette of the slopes and we hope the following will help others in a similar position to the one we were once in.

Take some lessons

Occasionally something that people don’t feel they want to do – we often hear people saying they’re embarrassed – the best thing you can do when you first go skiing is to take lessons from a qualified instructor.

A group skiing holiday can be one of the best social activities you ever do, but without having the basic knowledge of how to ski, you could find you quickly become frustrated with it and potentially more importantly, pick up bad habits that are going to be damaging to both you and those around you.

Stick to the appropriate pistes

One of the most important things you can do when skiing is to ensure you’re always in control.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first time on the snow or you’ve been skiing for the past 15 years, you should never go on a run that’s not suited to your ability.

For example, although the nursery slopes might be a little too easy if you’ve been skiing a couple of times, it’s important you don’t jump straight onto one of the more advanced runs – a gradual increase in difficulty will ensure you can better judge what ability you’re actually at and don’t cause problems for other skiers (both in terms of enjoyment and potential accidents).

Understand the rules

It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the rules of the resort that you’re staying in before you head out to ski, but one rule that’s the same everywhere is that the skier in front of you always has right of way.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re going past them, making a turn or stopping, if you cause them any problems that mean they have to unnecessarily move or stop, you’re in the wrong, not them.

There are also some unwritten rules that might be seen more as advisory than anything else, but are really important to follow.

Skiing after having a beer or two with your lunch is a perfect example.  You might not think it would have that much of an effect, but when you’re skiing down the side of a mountain, you need to have your full wits about you for the safety of everyone.

And irrelevant of what others might tell you, you must always obey what the signs say.  For example, if somewhere’s restricted, don’t go there – it’s restricted for a reason and no matter what others are doing, by following the rules, you’ll ensure you have the safest and most enjoyable skiing holiday you can.

Know how to use a ski lift

Knowing how to use a ski lift properly is one of those things that most new skiers don’t think about, but which can sometimes prove to be problematic.

Although you’ll be able to pick up the best way to do it from others, one of the most important things you must know from the start is that as soon as you reach your run, you need to get off the lift quickly, safely and then move immediately to the right or the left.

It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people leave their seat and just stand there – not only do they risk getting knocked over by those leaving the seat behind them, but they could very easily get knocked on the back of the head by a seat.

Report any accidents as soon as possible

What makes most ski resorts so fantastic is the welcoming, friendly atmosphere that echoes right throughout the resort.  Most people will give you help and advice if you ask for it and everyone appears to be keeping an eye out for everyone else, whether they’re having difficulty for one reason or another or there’s been an accident.

Whilst there’s not often any written rules about this, it’s considered good practice to report any accidents you see to the Ski Patrol as soon as you can.  Even if you think the accident is only minor or it’s potentially being seen to, it never hurts to double check – you’d want someone to do the same for you if you were involved in an accident, so it’s a simple case of good manners.

Stay safe

If there’s one piece of advice any beginner skier should know, it’s that you should always consider safety above anything else.  That’s not just in terms of skiing on the right slopes or having the right equipment, but in case of emergencies.

For example, it’s strongly recommended that you always carry a mobile phone and a first aid kit with you – or with whoever you class as the leader of your group.

If you happen to be going out on your own then let others in your ski chalet know what time you’re going out skiing, what time you are expecting to return and where exactly you’ll be going.  That way, should you not return on time, they’ll not only be able to try and contact you via phone, but they should be able to pinpoint your location when speaking to the Ski Patrol.

When you’re new to skiing, there’s no doubt it can be a little daunting.  It’s the same with anything new that’s first tried – because it’s different and you’ve never done it before, you don’t know what to expect or what exactly to do.

Although you’ll pick up a lot of great advice the more you ski, it’s always recommended you do your utmost to at least understand the basics of skiing etiquette before you head out.

Purely to ensure you have a good grasp of the basics, the more knowledge you have to start with, the more likely it is you’ll have as great of a time as possible when out skiing.