While experienced skiers usually adhere to the common skiing rules without even noticing, new skiers may not know what to expect.
Hitting the slopes for the first time can be quite exciting to the extent that you even think about the rules or what is expected of you as a skier or a snowboarder.
Even so, every slope user, whether new or expert, is expected to follow a set of rules to ensure everyone’s safety.
Some rules are meant to keep you safe while out there, while others are for looking after your fellow slope users and the incredible terrain.
At times, it may feel like rules restrict our actions, especially when it comes to recreational activities, but the truth is that they are actually set to protect us and let us enjoy the sport’s full potential.
Think about how hard it would be for crowds of skiers and snowboarders to ride the slopes without following any rules.
It would be impossible for skiers and snowboarders to use the slopes with confidence or even use a thrill-inducing speed when skiing and snowboarding.
If you want to be an accountable and responsible skier and are wondering what the rules are, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ll have a look at the most common rules you are likely to find at a ski area and show you a few tips for safe skiing and snowboarding.
Winter Sports Involve Risk of Injuries
While it’s rare for people to die while skiing, ski collisions, falls, and head injuries are common in the mountains.
About 600,000 skiers and snowboarders are injured on the slopes each year. Most of these injuries are not really life-threatening, but they can hinder the skiers’ ability to have fun on the slopes in the future.
That said, it’s essential to know the skiing rules and follow them when hitting the slopes, as anyone can go home with a serious injury.
7 Most Common Rules at Ski Resorts for Mountain Safety
If you want to go skiing for the first time or visit a ski resort that you’ve never been to, you might wonder what the rules are.
But there is no need to worry, as we’ve compiled a list of the most common rules below:
#1. Respect Every Slope User
When skiing on the mountain, you should be respectful to other skiers and slope users regardless of the scenarios you find yourself in.
The slopes accommodate people from all walks of life, and they all want to have great fun on the mountain just like you. So, respecting one another is crucial to ensure that everyone benefits.
Even if you find a beginner or someone who isn’t as seasoned as you are on your way downhill, it’s important to respect them and even have patience with them when needed.
You don’t want to put anyone on the hill in danger, as you might also end up harming yourself.
#2. Always Stay in Control
This is usually an important rule for new skiers because they are likely to make more mistakes on the slopes compared to those already used to the slopes.
If a beginner or someone with less experience skiing loses control when skiing downhill, they put themselves and other slope users at risk of serious injury.
They could easily collide with another skier or snowboarder, which usually results in terrible falls and injuries.
With that said, it is always important to use common sense and proper judgment, especially when skiing around other people.
You should always ensure you have full control of your movement and riding style so you don’t end up harming others.
Another essential thing about staying in control is to always ski on slopes that suit your level. Don’t go for black diamond runs to impress your friends when you lack experience skiing on advanced terrain.
#3. Give Right of Way As Needed
When skiing in a ski resort, you should always keep in mind that skiers, snowboarders or individuals using the mountain below you have the right of way.
The reason is that someone riding downhill will not typically stop and look backwards to check whether someone is coming unless they want to stop.
If you usually enjoy fast and aggressive skiing, it’s easy to collide with people below you when you don’t respect that they have the right of way.
So, regardless of your riding style, you must always remember that those ahead of you downhill have the right of way.
This aspect also shows that being in control means everything, especially when going at high speeds. Otherwise, you might end up hitting or colliding with those below you.
#4. Check Around Before Making Stops
When skiing alongside other people on the slopes, you must be careful when stopping to avoid injuries and bad collisions.
First, you cannot stop at the bottom or a sharp corner, regardless of the situation. Stopping at such points is usually a recipe for terrible accidents.
This is because skiers and snowboarders riding down may be unable to avoid something if they can’t see it from afar.
In a tight corner, a skier coming downhill will not see you in the first place, so they might run over you. And as you might have guessed, it will not be their fault!
This also goes for taking a tumble on the trail. If you fall when skiing downhill, you must try to move out of the way as quickly as possible, especially in high-traffic areas.
If you start looking for your goggles before checking uphill, someone might run over you. You should look for any lost items when you are sure there is no one above you.
#5. Check Uphill Before Merging into a Trail
As with regular traffic, those already on a trail have the right of way. So, you cannot simply merge into a trail when someone is coming down at high speed.
You should wait until it’s safe for you to join the run. Again, having control is critical in this case, as you may not be able to stop or slow down until someone who has the right of way passes.
#6. Observe the Ski Lift Etiquette
While ski lifts provide a huge help to skiers on the mountain, getting on board and alighting lifts can be quite stressful. But they can easily become an enjoyable part of your skiing once you master them.
Before you board any lift, you should know how to ride and unload safely to protect yourself and other people on the terrain.
Line cutting in ski lifts is also prohibited, and you shouldn’t reserve spots for more than two people as other skiers lining up will complain.
It’s better to board and wait for them at the top of the mountain or where the lift drops you off rather than making people angry. And once you descend the lift, always clear the landing area quickly.
If you are sharing a gondola or chair lift with other people, you may be unable to control their behavior. But you can be polite or treat them with the utmost respect and hope they follow suit.
Also, instead of pretending to ignore someone you are sharing the ride with, you can say hello to them with a smile to set a good environment and prevent awkward moments.
#7. Obey the Signage of the Ski Area
If you find any posted signs on your trail, you should observe them with complete care for your safety and that of others.
It’s important to stay away from closed trails and areas with posted warnings, as every ski area boundary is set for a reason. It could be that such areas have a higher avalanche risk or something similar.
If you ignore signage in a resort, you could end up being kicked out for putting yourself in danger for no good reason.
A bonus rule is to never turn a blind eye to an injured person or someone who needs your help on the mountain, and you are in a position to help.
Remember, there are lots of different skill levels and abilities on the slopes, so it’s easy to find someone in need of help along the way.
Even so, you must always consider whether it’s safe to help another skier on the slopes, as it’s not always harmless in all circumstances.
For example, if you realize that someone is being swept by an avalanche, it may not be prudent to run towards them or try to help.
In such cases, it is wise to call the ski patrol rather than try to help them yourself.
Do’s and Don’ts When Hitting the Slopes
These may not necessarily be part of the responsibility code in ski areas, but they are simple safety tips for keeping you and other skiers out of trouble on the mountain.
- Always be polite on the ski lifts. This doesn’t mean that you must create an enthralling conversation with every skier you meet, but it won’t hurt to say hi with a smile on your face.
- Be careful when walking or skiing near other people’s gear, so you don’t step on them.
- Always ride within your ability level and never try to show off to people on the slopes to avoid injuries and falls.
- Handle your gear safely to prevent runaway equipment or hitting people with your long skis in busy areas like lift line spots.
- Ask any ski area employee if you need clarification on the rules.
- Learn how to load and unload safely before using a ski lift.
- Always be aware of your skiing and snowboarding area when riding on freestyle terrain.
- Wear warm clothing that fits properly, and make sure that your layering has the appropriate types of clothes for comfort and mountain safety.
- Drink plenty of water to stay safe and hydrated, especially in high-altitude areas.
- Don’t litter around in the ski area to keep the environment clean and pleasant.
- Don’t cut lift lines, as it’s bad manners, and you might offend people.
- Don’t be on your phone in high-traffic areas, as someone might run over you.
- Don’t leave your skis or boards unattended to prevent runaway equipment.
- Don’t ignore an injured skier or someone who needs a helping hand on the slope.
- Don’t ski alone in terrain that you are not used to.
- Do ski in any closed areas.
Should I Ask a Ski Area Employee About the Rules?
Yes, if you aren’t sure of the rules of the ski resort you want to ski in, you can always ask an employee about the rules to be followed for skier safety.
It’s always wise to ask someone who knows the ski area well, like the ski patrol, when you don’t know about something rather than skiing without the relevant safety information.
Q: What is the Responsibility Code for Skiers?
A: The responsibility code for skiers consists of seven common rules:
1. Stay in control of your movement and style all the time to avoid hitting people or objects.
2. The people ahead of you always have the right of way, so it’s your duty to avoid them if you want to overtake them.
3. Don’t stop on blind spots like tight corners, as these are high-danger areas.
4. When starting downhill skiing or joining a trail, always look uphill and wait for skiers coming down to pass.
5. Observe the ski lift etiquette to ensure you load and unload lifts safely without hurting anyone.
6. Observe all warning signs and check for any hazard markings on freestyle terrain while staying away from closed areas as they may have a higher avalanche risk.
7. Before boarding a lift, ensure you know how to load, ride and unload safely to prevent personal injury.
Q: How Can I Be Careful for Skiing?
A: If you want to be careful and stay safe when skiing, the first thing to do is to ensure that you know your ski resort’s rules or the responsibility code.
Then incorporate a few tips like wearing warm clothing, taking care of your gear, and helping those who need help on the slope.
Personal awareness is also crucial when it comes to staying safe when skiing, as you want to stick to terrains that fit your skill level. Otherwise, you might end up falling and sustaining head injuries.
Q: Why Are There Closed Trails in Ski Areas?
A: Ski areas close some trails that lack enough snow are too risky to ski on. Areas with a higher avalanche risk remain closed until the ski patrol declares it safe for skiing and snowboarding.
Ski area operations can also call for some trails to remain closed, like when they want to build a structure or install a facility on the mountain.
While ski areas in different parts of the world have their own set of rules, there is a general responsibility code that most resorts have.
These rules include giving the right of way, observing signage and lift etiquette, checking uphill before joining a rail and more.
Skiers must follow these safety measures when skiing in a resort to stay out of trouble and keep other slope users safe on the mountain.