Safety and Self Care for Skiers: Get Ready for the Slopes

Written by | Fitness, Wellness

three skiiers

Photo Credit Telluride Ski Resort-Brad Foley

Since the advent of Modern downhill skiing in the 1850s, the sport has gone on to enjoy tremendous popularity. The Kotte National End of Season Survey estimates that in the U.S. alone there were over 53 million snow-sports visits over the course of  2017-2018 season. But that doesn’t mean we’re all doing it right.

With winter weather arriving, it’s important to plan ahead and strategize about how to not only get the most out of every snow day, but also how to stay safe before, during and after hitting the slopes. To do that, we consulted with experts from Colorado Ski Country, Stowe Mountain Resort and Telluride Ski Resort for safety and self-care tips to make sure LGBTQ skiers can fully enjoy the upcoming season.

One of the best ways to avoid injury is to properly train and condition your body as you lead up to the season. Colorado Ski Country () recommends training well in advance, stating: “You don’t hear of people running a marathon without training, and skiing should be no different. Use the summer and fall months to get yourself in ski season shape. Cardio workouts will build endurance against higher elevations, and strengthening workouts will keep you going on the long runs.” Some great exercises Colorado Ski Country recommends are: alternate lunge, one-legged balance, frog jumps, standing lunge and bicycle crunches.

Telluride Ski Resort (tellurideskiresort.com), considered one of the World’s Best Ski Resorts, is nestled into Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and boasts the highest concentration of 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks in North America. Scott Pittenger, Director of Mountain Operations at Telluride had some additional getting-ready recommendations, “Get those legs and core strong. Like many seasonal sports, skiing will utilize muscles that you don’t normally fire when working out at the gym or shooting hoops, so get a good foundation of strength and you are off to a great start. Hiking, running, and biking are great preparation. Biking has the added advantage of getting you ready for increased speed and getting you in the habit of looking ahead (the farther you look ahead, the more prepared you are for what’s coming; whether it’s a group of other skiers or a powder stash with deep turns waiting for you).” And Pittenger ought to know a thing or two about looking ahead: Telluride, with a base elevation of 8,725 feet, offers 2,000 acres of skiable terrain including their longest run, “Galloping Goose”, at 4.6 miles. Their lift-served vertical drop is 3,790 feet.

Once you’re at your ski resort of choice, it’s important to do some immediate things to get ready for a fun (yet intense) adventure. Stowe Mountain Resort (stowe.com) is Vermont’s internationally renowned four-season destination surrounded by Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Jeff Wise from the Snow Mountain Resort Communications Office points out that “stretching is always a good practice before skiing and riding to avoid getting hurt or minimize any potential injury. It’s also a good idea to make sure your equipment is tuned and fully functional before you hit the slopes. If renting gear, make sure the shop you choose has the appropriate sizes and settings for your skill level. I always recommend renting gear at the mountain. This way, in case there is a problem, replacement gear is conveniently located where you are skiing.” Stowe offers 485 skiable acres with roughly forty miles of terrain for skiing, snowboarding and living your best winter life. Mount Mansfield at Stowe has a summit elevation of 4,395 feet with a vertical drop of 2,360 feet.

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Pittenger also adds that, as you approach your ski week, it’s important to “drink lots of water and be sure your ski vacation isn’t the first time all winter you have worked up a sweat. Heading from sea-level to the elevation of the Rocky Mountains can leave you short of breath, so get your lungs working and let the amazing beauty of the San Juans take your breath away — not the walk to your ski locker.”

When it comes to choosing whether to explore more difficult terrain or stick with what you know, self care tips might seen a dime a dozen, but Wise shared his motto, “Use familiar skills on unfamiliar terrain and when trying new skills, choose familiar terrain.”

Safe and Sound

There’s been an increasing emphasis on safety when it comes to skiing and snow-sports, explains Chris Linsmayer, Public Affairs Director of Colorado Ski Country. “One area where we have seen a real increase is with helmet use — with more and more guests wearing helmets, especially those under 18 years old. I’d attribute this to a real and on-going effort by our resorts to educate guests about the benefits of helmet safety and also leading the way, by example — like ski instructors, ski patrollers and other resort employees wearing helmets while they are on the mountain,” Pittenger said. “Safety is a team sport and it doesn’t work if everyone isn’t on board. One reckless move can ruin your (or someone else’s) life.”

January is National Safety Month at ski resorts all over the United States; every year resorts hold a variety of safety demonstrations and programming to educate skiers about safety practices and the importance of helmet use. Colorado ski resort Copper Mountain (coppercolorado.com) has a new Slide in Control Program, which recommends individuals wear a helmet, plan ahead and be knowledgeable about snow conditions and trail closings before hitching a ride to the top of the mountain. They also recommend reading all signage, knowing your limits and keeping your head on a swivel to be on alert for objects and other skiers and riders around you.

The National Ski Areas Association assembled an important Responsibility Code to minimize the elements of risk in snow sports:
 

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

 
Steamboat Resort  (steamboat.com), in Steamboat Springs, CO, is famous for their “Champagne Powder” snow covering just less than 3,000 acres. With six peaks and an elevation of 10,568 feet, the resort is especially committed to mountain safety and has a detailed Slopewise Code of Conduct, which incorporates aspects of the Responsibility Code, the Colorado Ski Safety Act and stresses the value of cooperation through their #buddyup program.

Telluride also gets into National Safety Month; Pittenger shared  that “for the month, we set up a Safety Tent. The tent is constantly staffed and our guests are encouraged to check out the daily safety topics. A scavenger hunt around the mountain is led out of the tent, which highlights different aspects of trail safety, safe skiing techniques, the skier responsibility code and the Skier Safety Act.”

As important as it is to prepare (you may want to think of your full first day on the slopes as a warm-up), it’s important to call it a day when you start to feel fatigued. Fortunately, taking care of yourself after the slopes can be just as fun. Mountain resorts and towns are infamous for nightlife and spa culture. Linsmayer offered a few tips for relaxing after long day of skiing: “I would certainly recommend the Après scene at any of our resorts. It’s very easy to find an outdoor patio with a chair to sit back and relax. One other exciting option is hot springs, many of our resorts either partner with or are near a hot springs, which is the ultimate way to relax after a day of skiing.”

Wise added three important tips: “Rehydrate, re-energize and refuel.” He added, “Stowe has an amazing variety of restaurants and pubs to satisfy the cravings of the most discerning après skier. You could even take advantage of a day/evening visit to a spa like Topnotch, where you can book a treatment, gain access to the pools and hot tubs, and then dine at one of their restaurants on-site.”

Both Stowe Mountain Resort and Telluride Ski Resort offer Gay Ski Weeks. Stowe’s Winter Rendezvous Gay Ski Week 2019 (winterrendezvous.com) is the longest-running gay ski week in the Northeast and takes place from January 24-27, 2019. Telluride Gay Ski Week (telluridegayski.com) occurs slightly later in the season, from February 23-March 2, 2019. We’ll see you on the slopes!  

Also check out: It’s ELEVATION Season! Let’s Have a Ski-Ski!

Last modified: January 21, 2019