A few words for ‘boarders as well, but this is mainly a mini-rant at skiers. I know not all skiers are pompous, arrogant, selfish, ignorant, piste-greedy idiots, but far too many of them are. They annoy me, you may have guessed. I have seen several accidents on the slopes, and without exception every single one has been the fault of a skier – some very experienced (and therefore reckless), and some beginners (who then ski off very quickly without helping out or apologising).
There are a few rules on the mountain. A very few. Basically, they revolve around politeness and common sense. Most people seem to get these rules, or are just polite by instinct. An annoying number don’t.
- The person lower down the slope has right of way. That means if you’re cannoning down a piste at 80km/h, it is your job to avoid people further down (they can’t see you, remember?) and it’s not their fault if they swerve into your path. This can easily be avoided by skiing/boarding within the bounds of your ability and the current terrain. If you’re on a narrow piste, don’t go so quickly as someone else can get in your way more easily. It’s common sense. I see too many skiers in particular crouched in a “speed” position, zooming down green runs where beginners are trying to practise.
- Don’t stop, sit down or rest in the middle of the piste. If you have to stop for whatever reason, get to the side. This includes the areas just off the lifts. Again, just today I had several incidents where I saw skiers blocking the exits from lifts as they ski’d off, then just stopped on the middle of the run. On one of the green runs, I saw three people stopped while one of their friends built a small ramp off-piste. The boarder was to the side of the piste, the two skiers in the middle, round a corner and under a crest from the upper part of the run – and therefore in a bloody stupid place to loaf.
- Before you set off, check uphill to ensure you won’t get in someone’s way when you set off. Again, skiers assume they don’t have to – my experience – though I notice boarders making the same mistake from time to time. However, tie this in with the previous point and at least most boarders are at the piste’s edge so less likely to get in someone’s way.
- Give suitable clearance when overtaking someone. This one really, really gets my goat. Boarders are more likely to be guilty of this one than the others in my experience, but skiers are horrendous for doing it. Cutting someone up is rude and dangerous. Just because you’re used to haring downhill at speed and letting someone slip past you on the inside doesn’t mean that the kid who’s skis/board you missed by 3cm doesn’t mind either. So often I have seen skiers/boarders wooshing past people with virtually no distance to spare and the person they’ve narrowly missed panic and fall. Sure, you’re great and you have control, but the person you’ve just gone past had no idea you were there till you overtook them – it’s scary especially to a learner.
- Don’t pull in and stop suddenly on a slope right in front of someone. I have had arguments with skiers who’ve done just this – never a boarder. They cut me up, skid to a halt and then I either collapse in a heap, collide with them or clip their skis. They complain that it’s my fault due to point number one – I’m higher up so it’s my job to dodge them. Thing is, one second they weren’t there and then *pop*, they appear and block my way. This also happens when I’m just about to set off. I’m stationary, about to start sliding and a skier decides to stop in the one path I can take to get some momentum. Imagine you’re parked on the side of the road. You’re indicating to come out and just waiting for a car to go past. Is passes you… then stops half a metre in front of you and puts on its handbrake. Pretty damn rude, isn’t it? You can get round it, but it takes effort and the guy could have parked two metres further down and given you space but just decided to ignore you.
There are more “rules”, many of them spelled out on a per-resort basis. I’m sure you can see by looking at the above that they’re simple enough and generally are common sense. I also try not to rail against skiers in particular, but as I said it’s just my experience that the vast majority of people who do cause problems are skiers. The ratio hugely outweighs the number of skiers:number of boarders one.
Anyway, besides all that I had a good day off and finally figured out how to snowboard again. I can now actually go down a good few runs without falling on my backside. This is a good thing. I’m getting there! I feel sorry for the guy (a skier) who was airlifted off in dramatic style by helicopter, however. He was conscious and hopping prior to being loaded on the trailer of a Skidoo so I suspect just a badly broken leg. The worst I’ve had so far is a bruised botty – and I hope it stays that way.
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