Even after learning to ski and taking care of safety, falling over still happens. It is an inevitable part of skiing, so we might as well know how to do it properly.
At the point when you are certain to lose your balance, squat down as fast as you can. Then, if you are still shooting along, gently lie down (surprisingly easy once you are in a squatting position), and finally roll over onto the snow, with your hands held in close your body so as not to damage your wrists. Falling onto snow in this manner is almost entirely injury-proof.
It is important to avoid the mistake made by many people on the slopes who, while hurtling down at full speed and out of control, freeze in fear and hope of reaching the bottom still upright. In doing so, they can reach such speeds that will make any tumble very uncomfortable and could put others at risk. If you are already at high speed when you lose balance, try your hardest to make yourself compact just before toppling, to lower the center of gravity and reduce your falling distance.
Once on the ground, it is best not to lie around laughing your head off for too long. Remember you are in the middle of a ski trail and other people will be coming your way fast. Make every effort to get right to the edge of the slope, whether that means walking, crawling or rolling. If your skis and poles are lying around the slope, only go to collect them if you can do so quickly– you make yourself more of an obstruction. In the end another skier or rescue staff will most likely get them for you within a few minutes anyway. It is in everyone’s interest that the path is cleared.
When trying to get up again, there are a few techniques that are worth remembering. If your skis are still on your feet, you won’t be able stand up while they are pointing downhill because the skis will slide away every time you try. So always place both skis exactly perpendicular to the downhill slope (i.e. facing across the hill) and roughly shoulder-width apart. If you spot kids or friends trying to stand, shift their skis to this position and it will make everything much easier.
Once the skis are in this position, shift your body weight as close as possible to the skis, using your hands to push off the snow just behind your bottom and your stomach muscles to pull yourself upright. Look left, look right, and continue having fun.
If your skis have come off, it is not always easy to put them back on. Again, it is imperative that you place both skis facing directly across the slope, shoulder-width apart, not pointing down or uphill. The back parts of the bindings may still be in their locked position if your boots have popped out of the rather than through the binding-release mechanism. This will often happen if the bindings were set slightly too big to properly fit your boots.
In this case, you will not be able to put the skis on without first pushing down on the back of the binding to reset it. Always check if the back needs to be pressed down before making hundreds of futile attempts to step back in! Once again, pre-booking an instructor for the day from a reputable ski company will help these types of issues disappear without even noticing.
In between seasons training and working as a ski and snowboard instructor in Austria, Pete Tupper did a degree in Chinese and German in the UK and came to Beijing in 2010 to run winter camps under the name of O’le Ski. Since then, he has become a well-known face in the family and schools activities scene, creating and hosting the first climbing and skiing championships events for international schools and running all kinds of adventure weekends and trips. He just formed new music classes for kids and adults. Information on the various O’le organizations can be found on www.ole-sports.org and www.ole-music.com or contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of O’le Ski