A Rough Guide to Ski Etiquette


Skiing is fun, let’s face it, but for some winter travellers the buzz of excitement obstructs the all-important common sense gene. You know – the one which stops us from hurtling backwards off the nearest cliff face while taking that all-important selfie.

Most people at some point have probably diced with death at the hands of an irresponsible driver taking a last-minute turn off the motorway to save a few miles. Similar moves are often spotted on the slopes.

Before I mount my high horse of superiority and delve into the bible of common sense, I think it is only fair to admit that I have at some point in my life probably broken just about every rule on this list. But hey, nobody’s perfect and sometimes the best lessons are learnt through experience.

So without boring you with my stories of irresponsibility, most of which are too embarrassing and shameful to tell, I shall share with you some thought-provoking advice that will hopefully enrich your skiing experience and mould you into a genteel skier, while offsetting your chances of a court settlement or the possibility of a confiscated lift pass.

Pride Comes Before the Fall…

Our embrace of the digital age has taken itself to new levels. The number of people killed while taking death-defying selfies has surpassed even the number killed by shark attacks. So please try to avoid putting yourself at risk in any vanity-driven pursuit of social media glory, which in the event of your death will be forever immortalised as your tragi-comic last moment.


Before you take a break and capture the spectacular scenery with the aid of your selfie stick, always remember that there is a time and a place for this and right in the middle of the slopes is neither. It’s also a good thing to note that just about any area of a jump park or ski cross is a bad place to linger and a death trap for photography. Find somewhere off to the side of the piste, where you won’t get clattered.

It’s Not a Game…

Have you ever been skiing and felt like a pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto? It can get pretty scary out there, especially if you’re new to skiing. So if you like to pretend you’re Bode Miller while going Mach 10, it’s important to remember that you are not fortunate enough to have a whole slope to yourself. So know your abilities while maintaining good control on the mountain and, despite what you might have learnt from Playstation, the aim is not to mow down the entire ski school.

Do not try to break the sound barrier in order to beat your last speed record and always be aware of your surroundings. I would also not recommend listening to AC/DC full volume, no matter how pumped up it makes you feel. It can impair your judgement, especially if you are unable to hear skiers coming up behind you or even someone warning you about the 100-foot cliff you’re about to ski off.


Don’t Ignore Hazard Warnings

On first appearances a stretch of off-piste may seem harmless. That’s until you find yourself flying off a cliff face, being garrotted by barbed wire or attacked by wolves or bears.

Unless you pay for premium cover, it may be that your insurance does not cover off piste rescue, so… Respect the Hazard Signs. They are not there for decoration or to add dramatic effect. They are there for your safety. Ignoring them could land you in a whole world of hurt or even death and please remember the signs are not souvenirs. Do not take them home with you because you think it might look cool on your bedroom door.


Help Out at the Yard Sale…

So you’ve seen a skier-shaped blur tumbling past while dishing out a one-man yard sale of ski gear down the mountain. Do you:

A. Start collecting before the unfortunate individual has had time to cough-up his last few chunks of ice.

B. Laugh, yell insults and make obscene hand gestures.

C. Cut past close enough for them to get a spray of your sick line or…

D. Help out.

Hopefully you answered D. If not, you need to take a long hard look at yourself. If you happen to see a skier in some form of difficulty don’t strike a man while he’s down. Offer your help. It will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and you never know: you might get a free apres-ski beer for the trouble.


Sharing is Caring…

I know everyone likes to share the lift with their best ski buddies but sometimes, with the surge of a busy queue, this isn’t always the done-thing. So do humanity a favour – don’t hold up the lift queue waiting for your best bud to show up while everyone awkwardly skirts over your skis. Better still, just get on the damn thing because sometimes it can be nice to talk to/ignore someone else for a change.

Once you’ve finally got on the chairlift, this might seem like the perfect place and time to spark up a cigarette, pipe, e-cig or some kind of space bong. But one important fact to note is there are no evacuation procedures on a chairlift, so if the man sitting next to you happens to be wearing a 30-year old flammable onesie made out of shell-suit material, an innocent cigarette could turn into a flaming catastrophe. This is probably not going to happen, of course, but blowing smoke while the non-smokers try to suck up some fresh mountain air isn’t much fun either. So wait till you get to the top, or maybe even have some refreshing oxygen in the mean time. I hear it’s good for you.

Okay, so by this time you have probably ignored my advice and smoked so much that even the cancer’s vacating the premises. Please don’t make it worse and pull up the bar 200 feet before the lift gets to the top. Some people can get a bit iffy about heights and that little bar is the only thing keeping you from tumbling out of the sky like a prototype helicopter from the 1920s. Wait till you’’re no more that 20 feet from the top. Mmkay?


A Few Other Things to Remember …

  1. Be responsible with your gear. Try not to clothes-line people with your skis. Carry them carefully and don’t unload all your ski gear on the tables when you take your lunch as it can be pretty inconvenient for people who might need to share a table when it gets busy. Don’t stink out your friends by leaving your ski boots by your bed. Resort accommodation can often get a bit cozy and there’s nothing worse than a room full of yesterday’s boot sweat.
  1. Don’t litter up the beautiful mountain. People come here to experience the beauty of a natural environment and getting gum all over your ski boots isn’t much fun. Also, please don’t let rip a stream of yellow all over the crisp white stuff. Save it for a toilet.
  1. Don’t start ranting about how this black run is totally weak and would be a green in Canada. People will just stop talking to you.
  1. Try to be polite, sociable and be mindful of your language and other cultures. Don’t assume that because your fellow lift companions are foreign, they won’t understand what you’re saying. Hell, they probably speak better English than you do.
  1. Don’t stop just below the blind spot of a ridge or jump. If someone tries to jump it they could land on you. If you yourself are attempting a jump, make sure you have a friend who can spot the landing for you. Remember: The skier in front has right of way and mind your surroundings when you reach a cross section. Also, remember ski school kids have priority – they’re only wee nippers after all.

That’s all the moral candy I have to dish out, kids. Hopefully you learned something, and will embark on your next adventure as bonafide gentlefolk with a sense of decorum. Or at the least, you’ll avoid accidentally incinerating an elderly Austrian man wearing day-glo acrylic.


Words and graphics by Hugh Brazier, Visual Effects Artist and Blogger. You can see more of his work here – hughbrazier.co.uk


Categories: Advice

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