Whether or not you get hit by an out-of-control maniac with arms and poles flailing around as he plummets downhill is not entirely pot luck. Believe it or not, there are actually some ways to make sure you can avoid this kind of hazard when skiing.
Let them go first
When at the top of a slope, you can usually tell who are the skiers who are not going to have control of their limbs once they start sliding downhill. These people will already be shaking to stay balanced on the flat, holding their poles facing forwards and eyeing up the very bottom of the slope, which they fully intend to reach without stopping, whether still upright or not at the time. A strong recommendation would be to give a polite gesture to these people to allow them to go first.
Choose your slope
While it is not wise to go faster than you feel comfortable with, at the same time it can be equally dangerous to go too slow on a slope that may have other users skiing way faster. Remember that your own skill in controlling your speed is not the only factor out there. If you are not too confident, stay on the less steep slopes rather than going too slow on a steeper, faster slope.
Use an instructor
Experienced instructors develop a strong sense of who is around the customer at all times, and in which direction they should start to move to get out of the path of other skiers. Added to this, instructors will often ski backwards in front of the customer, not only to observe the skiing technique, but to enable a ‘rear-view’ of the situation behind at all times, that the skier would otherwise be unable to get. Using this rear-view vision, the instructor will anticipate far-away dive-bombers and guide you on a path that avoids them all, leaving you or your kids to concentrate on their technique and having fun.
Where and when to stop
On busy days, see the ski piste a bit like a highway. You wouldn’t stop a car right in the middle of the road, would you? Similarly in skiing, if you must stop, pull over to the side and slowly bring the skis to a stop there. If you fall in the middle of the slope and are not hurt, either put your skis on quickly and get moving again, or walk to the edge carrying your skis. If you are not too quick at putting skis on in the middle of a slope, don’t hang around too long while you try to put them on, just get out of the fast lane first and worry about putting them on once you’re out the way. Even the flat, bottom area of a ski resort can be a bad place to stand around between runs, as human torpedoes will keep their momentum right up into this flat area, so avoid standing there for too long. Try to move along to the ski lift or a different flat area not linked to a slope.
Choose your day and resort
Generally speaking, the further outside of Beijing, the less crowded a resort will be. There are plenty to choose from, both far and near. Just get in touch with O’le Ski or other Beijing-based independent ski travel companies for more advice. Also, it goes without saying that weekends and national holidays are the busiest, so go on a weekday if you are really concerned about numbers of other slope users.
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