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Essential Skiing Safety Guidelines

Renuka Savant
Thrilling as it actually is, skiing promises a power-packed punch in a matter of minutes. However, these very thrills can lead to disastrous consequences if you don't pay heed to safety instructions. Here are some skiing safety tips to help you enjoy the sport without compromising on safety.

Curse? Or Overconfidence?

Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, died in a skiing accident in Aspen. He was playing football on skis, when he hit a tree. He was not wearing a helmet or any other safety gear.

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It is strange how people generally tend to think of themselves to be immune to disasters; always throwing caution to the wind when it comes to exercising safety. Skiing, as with other adventure sports, has had its fair share of accidents, both fatal or otherwise. As expected, most of these accidents have been a consequence of disregarding safety measures.

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In the light of the recent tragedy that struck F1 champion Michael Schumacher, it is only fitting that we take our safety more seriously while skiing.

Ensure that you are fully equipped.

It goes without saying that comfort level of your ski gear dictates the tone of your entire skiing experience.

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To begin with, your ski gloves should be breathable and offer a good grip. Gloves that make your hands sweat or feel itchy can cause a distraction. A good and well-fitting pair of gloves will restrict your thumbs from getting caught in the pole straps, thus avoiding a common skiing injury.

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As with your hands, your feet too must be sheltered by a comfortable pair of skiing boots. Skiing with ill-fitting boots necessarily qualifies as a torture, rather than the fun experience it ought to be.
Your ski binding or DIN setting is calculated using your height, weight, boot size, age, your ability/level, and style of skiing. All these factors are taken into consideration when your skis are being fitted. This aspect is very crucial, since the incorrect setting will lead to the ski clipping off inadvertently, causing a nasty fall in the process.

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The jury may still be out on the ski helmet issue, but it does warrant as an essential, at least for those under the age of 16.
Studies have gone on to prove that helmets have been fairly useful in preventing ghastly injuries to the head―with one study from the University of Calgary actually mentioning that the risk of head injury drops as much as 29 to 56% when a helmet is worn. Well, if not an injury, a helmet is sure to offer protection from the elements.

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Ski goggles are important, though you may not feel so when the weather is snowy, cold, and hazy. The winter sun can be harsh enough to fry your eyeballs; and it is usually too late by the time you realize it. Unless you wish to sport the raccoon look at your apres-ski party, do don a pair of protective goggles.

Take good care of your equipment.

Your skiing equipment must always be up to the mark in terms of maintenance. At the beginning of the season, ensure that your skis are examined and sharpened, if necessary.
If there is a change in your body weight, do let the technician know, so that your DIN settings will be altered accordingly.

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Your boots and bindings should have a perfect fit―remember that overlooking these seemingly minor aspects will interfere with your skiing experience.

Be in top shape.

Fitness is a priority when it comes to skiing. You need to build your core strength to be able to live up to the physical demands of this rather arduous sport.

Also, do not forget to devote ample time for warm-ups before you hit the slopes. It will go a long way in increasing that much-needed flexibility during jumps and turns.

Do not overestimate your abilities.

If you're a beginner, you are a beginner, and there shouldn't be any hand-ups in accepting that.

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Taking on challenges that you know you are not equipped to fulfill may just be a classic recipe for disaster. So, do not succumb to peer pressure, or do not imagine yourself to be more skilled than what you are.
Always ski on slopes indicated to suit your level. Ski trails are marked according to the level of expertise―green circles indicate beginner terrain, blue squares are for intermediate, and black diamonds signal advanced terrain. Please take the trail that reflects your ability.

Follow the rules.

They're known as rules for a reason―they are devised for your safety. Off limit areas are strictly off limits, because they can pose hazards to skiers. Ensure that you stay away from them.
It is very important to pay attention and heed all signs and instructions that you encounter along the way.
Practicing skiing etiquette is of prime importance. There are several points to remember in this regard, especially basic things such as never stopping in the middle of a trail, calling out to another skier if you are approaching from behind, and so on. You are required to educate yourself about skiing etiquette.
There certainly cannot be an end to the list of safety instructions for skiing. But, it is important not go overboard and turn so paranoid, that it affects your play. Always remember to be safe, and alert at all times.