When we reach a certain level, we move into the realm of visualising the line that we would like to ski. Where to turn, where to avoid, a drop or powder stash we would like to hit. Visualising allows us to safely pick a line and then successfully ski it. When teaching kids it’s easiest to apply a framework to help them understand what to look for and then think of a contingency, or alternative should things not go exactly as we had planned.
This could be done a number of ways. From the chairlift, looking back up after skiing an easier way down, or even skiing the area slowly observing potential hazards on the way before skiing with fluidity, dynamism, and pace. Skiing in trees this is quite challenging as this needs to be done as you ski and a certain familiarity needs to be developed to gain knowledge and then confidence.
Safety – This is the number 1 goal for every lesson. Some of the questions to be asked are what risks are there? How are we going to minimise/mitigate these risks? What are the snow conditions? Weather conditions? Risk is also perceptual as well as actual and is determined by the group or individual. Even though the final call is with the instructor, I would have a discussion with the student guiding them to an informed conclusive decision.
Capability – Do I have the ability to ski for this run? Sometimes if we are exploring new terrain we need to learn how to ski it on familiar or less challenging terrain first. Skiing steeper terrain requires a refinement of skills before we actually ski it.
Options – What are our options if our plan needs to be changed? Creating an alternative or contingency allows for success, even if it isn’t Plan A.
Preparation – Now we are starting to blend some of the previous points, honing our skills. Practicing new technique on familiar terrain, before refining and strengthening skills and building confidence on comparable terrain.
Execution – This is what we came for! Skiing the anticipated line with confidence and ‘aggression’!
When we go on holidays, we tend to think of a relaxing, fun and safe time with friends or family. On a ski holiday, the ‘relaxing’ part is swapped for something more active, and even though skiing is fun and can be exhilarating, it is more fun when we stay out of hospital.
To help us do this, skiing and snowboarding has a set of rules that are enforced on the mountain. These are designed to help keep people safe on the mountain and provide a foundation on which we conduct ourselves. These can be found on the website of any ski resort you go to. Here in New Zealand it is referred to as The Snow Code and is as follows.
Know your Limits
- Ride to your Ability, control your speed. (Sometimes it might be tempting to listen to friends and go on something more challenging than what your capable of, if this happens, listen to your instinct and politely decline. Or tell them outright that it’s beyond you at this point in time. Conversely, you might be tempted to take someone where they shouldn’t be, this could be a holiday wrecker, I have seen it happen!)
- Be aware of the conditions. (This includes both snow and weather conditions. Snow reports are available on the resorts website, snow phone or ticketing. This allows you to prepare for the day, if it’s cold, to layer up, exceptionally windy to wear a windproof jacket or if it’s sunny, to wear extra sun screen etc.)
- Take a Lesson. (If you are feeling adventurous and feel that you need to explore some new terrain, go with a professional. We’ll set you up for success and get you where you want to go, without leaving you behind!)
Find your Space
- Stop where you can be seen. (Try to avoid stopping. However, if you do need to stop, avoid stopping behind rollers or just round the bend. If you can’t see people skiing down, the chances are they can’t see you either. It doesn’t matter if it’s a high traffic area or not, if someone is coming down fast and they don’t see you until it’s too late, this is a first class ticket to patrol!)
- Give others room. (When you overtake someone, make sure to leave plenty of room. This is to ensure that if they make an unanticipated manoeuvre, a collision can be avoided.)
- Look Ahead. (As with driving, or riding a bike on the road, you always look ahead, scanning for whatever may be a hazard. This applies with skiing, too.)
- Obey ALL signs and closures. (The signs are there for a reason. If a run is closed this could be for many reasons, too much snow, not enough snow, too icy. If you do get caught in a Closed area, at best you could lose your pass, and at worst, you could die.)
- Tired, Take a rest. (Fatigue can cause poor decision making and then you could get injured. Stop, take a break, have a coffee, water or hot chocolate and have a snack, go to the toilet. It’s okay to take a break every now and then.)
- Wear a Helmet. (There have been many instances that extent of injury could have been prevented had the skier/boarder worn a helmet. I wear a helmet when I am free skiing, as well as working. It feels strange when I don’t. Wear a Helmet!)