Skiing Can Be Hazardous

Most of us understand skiing can be hazardous. I have written on this before and the inherent hazards of skiing guide much of how ski resorts operate — the waivers, the ski patrol, the code, etc. Moving down a hill on two narrow and slippery boards going 25+mph with a minimum of protection can be hurtful.

Still, despite all the precautions and warnings people still get hurt and die. Unfortunately, injury will happen to people despite them following the rules, the code, the guidelines. That is bad enough, sadder still is when people disregard the rules, the code, the guideline, etc and voluntarily put themselves in mortal danger.

The Globe and Mail brings us this headline: Ski deaths at B.C. resort leave victims’ Ontario hometown reeling. The article reports the group went out of bounds and then got out of their skis and attempted to return to the top of the hill.The story is not clear on what exactly happened, but it seems they lost their footing trying to get up an icy chute, slid down the chute, and then over a cliff. Not everyone in the group died but two men did perish. Ski boots are NOT made for walking; we have to walk with them from time to time, but serious hiking is not something I would want to do in my ski boots.

Ski resorts set their boundaries for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons may seem or be silly (protecting habitat for red squirrels for instance) or for safety reasons. I know elite (using this term non-pejoratively) skiers can generally handle situations such as the above party found themselves in, but even elite skiers need to know where they are going. Elite skiers can free fall tremendous distances but only so long as they hit the ground on a sufficiently sloped hill. Do you know that chute exits over such terrain? That is the same idea as knowing how deep the water is before you dive in headfirst. That is why ski resorts that allow out of bounds skiing offer the services of guides.

You do not even have to be skiing on extreme terrain to put yourself in danger of serious injury (or worse). When I was in high school a couple of kids went to the local ski hill and despite that hill’s double-black being a bunny hill out West one of those kids managed to put himself in the hospital with what I recall being a fairly serious injury.

Skiing is most fun when you are at the edge of your abilities, pushing only slightly, not when you are disregarding your ability and putting yourself in bad situations. Push your abilities firmly but gently. Ski Resorts want to provide and plan fun activities for all people and I am quite sure they hate having to engage in recovery operations. Your family and friends too, I am quite sure, would hate for you to kill yourself.

Good Stuff!

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