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Here Are 4 Ways to Avoid Ski Mishaps on the Slopes This Winter

During my childhood, the tales of my mom’s and uncle’s superb skiing skills always enchanted me. They were ski educators in their college days, imparting the art of conquering the mountains at a prestigious ski resort. When not teaching, they effortlessly glided down challenging ski trails. Despite being born into a family with a skiing legacy, I had never experienced skiing myself. Nevertheless, fueled by the belief that skiing was in my genes, I enthusiastically agreed to accompany my friend on a skiing escapade during our Colorado trip in October 2019, without considering the possibility of ski accidents.

After acquiring my uncomfortably tight ski boots, to the point where I dreaded the risk of fracturing my shin (they were that restrictive), and obtaining my lift pass, I decided against a professional lesson assuming that my friends could teach me. (Spoiler alert: they couldn’t.)

As we ascended the mountain, I sought reassurance from my mom through text messages to calm my nerves. I anticipated her, a former skilled skier, to provide words of wisdom. However, her corrections on terminologies (such as distinguishing between a ski lift and a gondola) turned out to be her response. Due to inadequate snow at the mountain base on its opening day (Halloween), I was forced to ascend to the peak at a staggering altitude of around 12,000 feet to attempt the beginner’s slope. Needless to say, the experience was far from smooth. Frustration ensued from recurrent falls, the struggle to get back up, tumbling backward on the uphill conveyor belt, obstructing the queue, and the constant fear of sustaining an injury. Eventually, I called it a day.

To prevent finding yourself in a similar predicament on your first ski trip or after a prolonged hiatus, continue reading to discover four strategies to steer clear of ski injuries on the slopes this winter, as advised by skiing expert Kelly Jensen, manager of The Alpineer within the Christy Sports retail chain in Crested Butte.

4 Suggestions for Evading Ski Mishaps This Winter

1. Maintain Adequate Hydration.

Proper hydration before and during skiing is crucial. Jensen emphasizes, “Hydration is vital in everyday life, especially during intense physical activities. Dehydration can cause joint stiffness and hinder muscular coordination, whereas staying well-hydrated can help prevent muscle cramps and maintain blood circulation to working muscles.” Consider postponing pre-slope festivities and avoid consuming alcohol until après-ski. Additionally, ensure you drink sufficient water before and after skiing to maintain hydration levels.

2. Warm Up & Cool Down with Stretches.

Stretching is immensely beneficial both before and after skiing. Jensen advises, “Skiing in cold weather affects muscles. I recommend stretching in line for the lifts and before commencing each run.” Prioritize stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Jensen warns, “If your muscles are tight and unresponsive to sudden obstacles or imbalances, they may react inadequately or fail to adjust promptly. This can lead to various leg injuries or falls resulting in unpredictable outcomes.”

3. Ensure Proper Gear Fit.

It’s. So. Crucial. “Well-fitted ski boots enhance control, allowing skiers to execute precise maneuvers in challenging conditions to avoid collisions with other skiers, trees, varying snow conditions, or any other unforeseen obstacles during skiing,” Jensen asserts. “Moreover, focusing on foot discomfort can distract you from rapidly changing conditions.”

If you lack prior skiing experience, you may not recognize the ideal fit for your gear — nevertheless, it should never cause discomfort. Speak up for your comfort and well-being. Trust me, enduring excruciatingly tight boots while worrying about potential injuries is the last thing you want.

In addition to boots, Jensen highlights the importance of correctly adjusted bindings. “Bindings play a critical role in safety and should not be underestimated,” she cautions. “Incorrect binding adjustments can rapidly lead to injuries. In cases where release values are set too high, you may remain trapped in the bindings post-crash, resulting in various knee and lower leg injuries.”

4. Listen to Your Body.

Jensen concludes by emphasizing the significance of listening to your body both before and during skiing. “I often start my skiing day with an easier run whenever possible,” she shares. “Rushing headfirst into challenging terrain without assessing your physical readiness can lead to misjudgments and potential falls with severe repercussions.” Additionally, she underscores the importance of recognizing when to call it quits as skiing while fatigued increases the risk of injuries.

The Bottom Line

“Skiing demands peak performance amidst changing conditions throughout the day, so bear these tips in mind, enjoy yourself, and stay safe from injuries,’’ Jensen encourages.

As for me, will I venture back onto the slopes? Absolutely. Would I skip the lesson or head directly to the summit? Definitely not.

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