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 Conventional Skiing Wisdoms (CSW's) 

by Bill Jones, Ski Instructor
Certified Professional Ski Instructor (Registration #110478), Level III
private ski lessons at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, other areas

 CSW #19: "Skiing is dangerous."

Yes, we can and do get hurt skiing. That is why there is a disclaimer at this site's Site Use Agreement. That is why there are ski patrols at ski areas and medical facilities at the bases of many. Skiers are likely to witness sleds carrying injured persons down to treatment and may witness the accidents themselves.

To help with this problem, ski patrols and slope traffic personnel may monitor activities and caution against unsafe practices. Warning signs are posted at known--but not all--hazardous sites. (I know of one ski area with such rugged terrain that they do not mark hazards at all, else their entire mountain would be covered with warnings.) There are also the Skier's Responsibility Code and state laws and even sheriffs (sometimes armed) on some slopes.

The use of helmets in skiing is increasingly popular, although data on the degree of safety this provides is still being gathered.
Even if helmets are deemed safer, what is the risk assessment factor and is it significant enough to justify the expense and inconvenience (obviously an individual choice). And are there situations in which the helmet might increase risk--such as encouraging more risk-taking behavior due to a false sense of increased safety from wearing a helmet? Or of impaired hearing. Or of restricted vision.

Other sports have dangers, too. I know many bicyclists and know many who have been injured from their sport. White-water rafters sometimes drown. Football has taken a toll on knees. Fly-fishermen have been swept downstream with their waders filled with water. Climbers expose themselves to obvious risks. I will post data here on relative dangers of various sports when found, and if you can help provide it, please do so.

It seems logical that ski lessons would reduce the dangers of the sport, but I have no data on this. Injuries do occur while taking lessons.

It also seems logical that skiing when fatigued would be more hazardous than when fresh, but again I have no data and it is possible that fresh skiers would take greater risks with greater danger.

It also seems logical that focusing on one's skiing is less dangerous than thinking of unrelated matters. I know of one injury apparently caused by inattention due to thinking of what to prepare for dinner.

For now, each of us must assess our own level of risk we are willing to take versus the rewards we get or expect to get from the sport. And there is the unquantifiable thought about what benefits we may get from exercise in the outdoors versus a more sedentary winter lifestyle.

There are probably situations when a fear of danger caused a skier to be too cautious and not perform with adequate intensity or speed a maneuver needed to direct or redirect a turn. It may be necessary to do stops vigorously as well.

Please also see Slope Safety.

main CSW contents
prior CSW #18: "Turn the outside ski first"
next CSW  #20: "New shaped skis are just a fad; the fad won't last."

"SKIING IS A SLIDING SPORT"--a skiing web manual:    Skiing Web Manual Contents   Why Read This Skiing Web Manual  That First Skiing Lesson   A Little Skiing History  Motion in Skiing  CONVENTIONAL SKIING WISDOMS  Skier Excuses    Fear in Skiing  Conditioning for Skiing  Equipment and Technique  Skiing Equipment  How Skis Work   How to Develop Balance on Skis  A Skiing Turn Simplified The Final Skiing Skill: pressure management  Tactics for Terrains and Snow Textures and Racing  Skiing Tips and Tales--a potpourri    Exercises for Developing Skiing Skills  Children and Skiing  Age and Skiing  Gender & Skiing  Culture & Skiing  Skiing Ethics and Survival  Slope Safety   Skiing Environment  Glossary Acknowledgements SkiMyBest Website Contents  
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