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Life in the Fast Lane Can Imperil Your Skiing

by Dan Giesin | January 25, 2022

Everyone who has spent any time on a ski hill has a story to tell about skiing too fast.

One friend of mine — we’ll call her June — was skiing at a popular and well-known resort a few years ago, zooming down a super-long, top-to-bottom groomer when she encountered  flat light conditions at the same time as hitting a trans-run cat track. With her visibility impacted and her speed way too high, she was catapulted into the air and tumbled nearly 100 yards down the slope, resulting in massive damage to the ACL and MCL in her left knee.

The combination of that accident and impending motherhood left June with a new outlook on skiing.

“I decided to really slow down after that,” she said.

Mayhem on the Mountain

It’s a cliche to say that speed kills, but too fast skiing or boarding often leads to people being out of control at America’s ski resorts, which in turn can lead to mayhem. 

According to statistics compiled by the National Ski Areas Association, there were 48 deaths and 41 catastrophic injuries (brain or spinal damage, paralysis, loss of limb, etc) in the United States in the winter of 2020-21, the majority of them as a result of a collision. And most of the carnage occurred on blue, or intermediate, runs.

And these numbers have had an unfortunate tendency to increase with each passing ski season.

So it’s no wonder that the NSAA annually and vociferously promotes on-slope safety by declaring January Safety Awareness Month with such promotions as Lids on Kids, Know Your Responsibility Code and #RideAnotherDay.

Taking It Slow

One great way to keep life and limb intact is to put the brakes on the boards. Whether you ski or ride, racking up humongous amounts of vertical per ski day might seem cool, in a one-up-manship sort of way, but it certainly could imperil your health and well-being, not to mention those other skiers and boarders on the hill that may get in your way.

So why not dial it down a notch or two, and savor the mountain life in the slow lane for a bit?

There are numerous paybacks — other than keeping your body in one piece — for moseying down the mountain rather than taking the heater-shelter route:

  • You’ll notice what’s going on around you better (and see and avoid those madcap careeners you once were);
  • You’ll make better decisions because you’ll have more time to react to potential danger;
  • It will help reduce stress (see the two advantages above);
  • By going slower you’ll actually make better turns;
  • You’ll enjoy your time skiing and snowboarding more.

After all, isn’t that final bullet point the reason all we sliders and riders spend all our time on the snow?

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