The Non-Skiing Guide to Skiing: What to Do Before and After Hitting the Slopes
Whole books can be, and have been, written about how to ski. Starting with the “snowplow wedge” that most instructors teach to ease their students down bunny slopes, all the way to navigating moguls, mastering skiing is a long and difficult process. But just as important as learning to keep your ski poles always pointed uphill are the things skiers of every level should do before and after hitting the slopes. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you venture out on the mountain, and what to do when you get back.
- Eat something – Plan to be on the hill or mountain for a while, and eat a large meal before heading out. Skiing sessions regularly surpass several hours, and you don’t want to be caught on a ski lift with an empty stomach. Plus, eating before you ski can help you avoid an emergency ski lodge meal, which, depending on which resort you visit, can be expensive.
- Collect and inspect your equipment – Safety should be a priority before you begin your session. If you’re renting ski boots, they should be tight without restricting blood flow. Loose boots make controlling your skis more difficult, while boots that are too tight can be painful and may lead to serious tissue damage. If you own skis and boots, make sure your bindings are tight and the safety release is calibrated to your skill level. Intermediate and advanced skiers should wax their skis to reduce friction and maximize performance.
- Dress for the weather – Review the weather report and dress accordingly. Remember that it will feel colder when you’re sitting still on a windy ski lift chair. Overdressing should be avoided just as much as under-dressing; skiing is a physical activity and will raise your body temperature. So get in the habit of dressing according to the weather and your comfort level.
- Apply sunblock – Even though it’s cold out, there is a real risk of sunburns while skiing. Especially on sunny days, the snow reflects and intensifies the sunlight, which can cause serious sunburns. Apply sunblock before you go out and every couple hours afterward.
- Lock up your skis – Most ski resorts have ski racks spread throughout the property. These should be used for temporarily holding your skis, and only if you are near enough to see them. Use a resort-run ski corral, which will hold your skis and issue you a ticket like a coat check, or ski locker to house your skis if you need to leave the slopes.
You can also lock your skis to the ski rack of your car, which should be secure if properly locked up. Your skis can be more vulnerable inside your car. To be safe, ask your automobile insurance agent whether your auto insurance coverage protects against damage caused by theft; the ski equipment itself would be covered by homeowners or renters insurance.
- Check exposed skin and extremities – Exposed skin and extremities, like fingers and toes, are more susceptible to frostbite than the rest of your body. Signs of frostbite include:
- Slight pain, prickling or itching sensation
- Discolored skin (red, white, pale or grayish-yellow)
- Cold or burning sensation
- Muscle stiffness
If you’ve been in cold weather for an extended period of time, be aware of these symptoms. If you suspect that you have frostbite, seek immediate medical attention.
- Après ski – Many skiers agree that the one of the best parts about skiing is relaxing afterward. Après ski (French for after skiing) refers to time after you come in from the cold to relax, drink hot drinks and socialize. The best ski resorts have après ski down to a science, so use the time to unwind and relive the day’s adventures on the slopes with family and friends.
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© 2013 – 2016, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.