There’s no outdoor activity as spectacular as enjoying scenic snowy mountain views while flying down the Colorado slopes. Winter recreational activities bring thousands of visitors to Colorado’s world-renowned ski resorts and also bring the locals out to enjoy the fresh powder. No one wants their day on the glittering mountain slopes to end in a hospital, yet hundreds of thousands of skiing and snowboarding injuries happen each year. While most injuries are minor, they may still ruin an otherwise beautiful ski vacation. Other injuries are severe, and even catastrophic. The National Ski Areas Association reported an alarming 57 fatal ski accidents during the 2020-2021 season and 54 catastrophic injuries.
Expert skiers and resort managers in Colorado share tips on how to protect yourself and others on the Colorado ski slopes this winter.
Know the Common Colorado “Skiers Code”
Knowing the common code for safe skiing shared among Colorado ski resorts is the number one way to avoid injuries. This common code of responsibility for skiers includes the following important points:
- Those ahead of you on trails or downhill slopes have the right of way. It’s your responsibility to avoid them
- You must remain in control of your skis and able to stop at a moment’s notice
- Only stop outside of the pathway of skiers except in emergencies, and remain visible to them
- Always look uphill to avoid oncoming skiers and yield to them when entering a trail or slope
- Prevent “runaway” equipment from sliding downhill
- Always read and obey warning signs and hazard warnings
- Stay out of closed trail and slope areas
- Familiarize yourself with the lifts you’ll be using, including how to load and unload safely. Ask for help if you need it.
- Stay off of lifts and slopes while intoxicated
- If you’re involved in a collision with another skier, exchange contact information and report the incident to an employee or get in touch with a Westminster personal injury attorney.
Check Your Equipment Before Hitting the Slopes
Always check your equipment to ensure everything is in good shape and working effectively before going out on the slopes or trails. Replace anything defective, broken, or showing excessive wear and tear. Before any ski experience, make sure you have well-fitted skis and boots, proper poles, and correctly adjusted bindings. Helmets are highly recommended for skiers of all ages.
Make Sure You’re in Good Physical Shape and Know Your Limits
Before planning a ski vacation or a day on the slopes, it’s important to be in good physical health and ensure you have the endurance level you need for a full day of strenuous physical activity outdoors in the cold. Know your limits and don’t take on a trail or slope if you suspect you aren’t experienced enough or in good enough shape to manage it.
Physical exhaustion and muscle fatigue leave skiers more prone to injuries. Take breaks as often as you need them.
Ski in Groups or Pairs
Never go out on a trail alone. It’s best to ski as a group or with a friend. Carry walkie-talkies with a ski buddy in case you become separated. Walkie-talkies are more reliable in mountainous regions than cell phones.
Know What to Do in Emergency Situations
Finally, expect the best but prepare for the worst. Skiers should take basic first aid courses and familiarize themselves with common ski injuries. If you or a friend experience an accident on the slopes, alert other skiers by crossing the injury victim’s skis above them on the trail in the universal ski injury signal. Snowboarders place the board above them. These signs keep other skiers from approaching at full speed. Remain with the injured skier until help arrives. Most Colorado ski areas have help numbers posted to alert patrollers in case of injuries or other emergencies.