-An overview by Emilio Trampuz -
Turning skills - "Don't crash and
burn - Learn to turn"
is what our sport is all about, yet many people have very poor control
over the shape, size and speed of their turns. Just try to get a group
of people to do synchronized turns, and see how few people can do it. We propose a whole
new vision of safety and fun on the slopes, by promoting the
development of turning skills
and encouraging ski areas to slow down traffic on the slopes by
providing interesting and fun obstacles to practice turning.
started with an
to ski areas written by Emilio Trampuz (our newsletter editor) based
on several personal experiences that pointed to a number of problems,
and suggested a number of possible solutions.
See illustrations of possible new
developments at ski areas, on the
own opinion and express your ideas in our
See other people's reactions to these ideas
It's best to
always ski with at least one or two ski buddies, but this is not
always possible, or you might temporarily get separated from your
buddies. To help you stay in touch with other people,
especially in case of emergency, it is helpful to carry as many of
the following gadgets with you as you can:
whistle - to attract attention, especially if you become injured
in a remote area.
Two-way radio - so you can talk to others in your group. Our
club uses channel 6-19.
Cell-phone - to summon help if your two-way radio is out of
More so than any other piece of equipment, safety bindings
saved us from many broken legs and made out sport far safer. Give
thanks to Hjalmaar Hvaam, a local, Oregon skier, who invented the
first safety binding. Also thank many others who followed and
perfected safety bindings, allowing them to release in many
These days, bindings are close to perfection. They will release
almost every time, provided they are set properly. Always use
the recommended DIN setting for your particular height, weight, and
skiing style. If the factory recommended setting is 6, don't
crank it up to 10, unless you are looking for trouble.
It is wise to err on the side of caution. When I have my
bindings adjusted, I usually tell the technician that I am an
intermediate skier, even though I am actually advanced.
This will mean that my bindings will be set a notch lower,
making release easier. As long as I ski properly, well
centered on my skis, the bindings will hold just fine. If I do
make a mistake and fall, I'd rather the bindings release more
easily, making it less likely I might twist my knee before the
3. Helmets - "Protect your
noggin when you go toboggin' "
There are many situations where a helmet will definitely make you safer.
This is obvious. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
reports that in 2002, about 23,000 skiers and snowboarders suffered
head injuries. The CPSC estimates that 40% of those injuries would
have been prevented or lessened if the person had been wearing a
But, it is also important to be aware of a
helmet's limitations. Remember those other 60% of injuries, where
wearing a helmet did not help. Helmets might give you a false sense of
security, making you feel over-confident, invincible, and maybe even
reckless. Helmets will definitely protect your head from superficial
bruises, cuts and scrapes. But, their usefulness in collisions is
limited to lower speeds, because they can't totally prevent internal
injuries and concussions. Here's what you need to know about
is the best cure.
It's best if you never put yourself in a situation where a helmet
might be needed. Avoid excessive speed. Never put yourself in a
situation where you don't have time to plan your next couple of
turns. Never let your equipment get ahead of you. Never ski where
you can't see what's ahead, and be extra cautious at places where trails
merge. Always anticipate what others around you may do, and give
them plenty of space to do it.
ski faster than your guardian angel can fly!"
b) A helmet is good for
Then it needs to be replaced. In fact, some helmet
manufacturers suggest that you get a new helmet every two years, ...
because materials deteriorate with time, and the helmet might be
subjected to numerous little bumps during the course of two years
(including accidentally falling to the ground when left unattended).
c) In a direct
a helmet can protect you only up to speeds of about
per hour. At higher speeds, even if your helmet
protects your skin, it cannot prevent your brain from continuing to
move forward at high speed after your head has come to a sudden
stop. Your brain smashes into the inside of your skull, creating a
concussion, ... and even possible death.
Example 1: A cyclist died when he crashed headfirst near the
finish line during a road race at Portland International Raceway on
July 12, 2005. The cyclist slammed headfirst into a steel post
filled with concrete. “He was wearing a helmet, but it didn’t do
much at 30 mph,” said Lt. Allen Oswalt, a spokesman for
Portland Fire and Rescue.. Oswalt said the cyclist suffered “huge
head trauma” and died at the scene. Medical personnel treated the
cyclist within seconds, but there was no chance to save him.
(Associated Press article dated July 13, 2005.)
Example 2: A Shelton (WA) man died Sunday, July 10,
2005, when his motorcycle went off the road and struck an
embankment, ejecting him into a ditch. Garry Edward Smith, 31,
died at the scene. He was driving south on state Route 3 when his
1999 Harley-Davidson left the roadway, according to a news release
from the Washington State Patrol. He was wearing a helmet. The
Patrol cited speed as a factor in the crash. ("The Olympian
Online", July 13, 2005.)
Helmet might get snagged.
rare, there is a possibility that a helmet could get snagged by a
branch, or by a passing ski, or some other object. This could cause
a neck injury, by twisting your head, ... and in extreme
circumstances might even cause death.
Example: The February 1999 death of 3 year old Eugene
Arnold in a Pennsylvania playground is bringing attention to a
danger many previously thought was unlikely in the United States:
strangulation by a helmet strap. Safety experts have been aware of
deaths and non fatal accidents in other countries involving children
who were wearing bike helmets while on playground equipment or in
trees. Arnold was playing on a slide in an apartment complex
playground in Fairfax Township, Pennsylvania. He crawled into a
space between two overlapping platforms at the top of a slide. When
his mother and a friend found him, his body was hanging off the
platform while his head and chest were still stuck on the ledge.
BHSI, a non profit safety organization, is updating its bicycle
safety pamphlets. The pamphlets mention the danger and warn that
young children should take off their helmets when they get off their
bikes. (An Article from "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News"
March 15, 1999.)
Action You Need Traction"
"4-wheel drive for uphill action - ABS for downhill traction"
the slopes safely and returning home in one piece is a big part of
the safety equation. Here are just some pointers. Traction is
the key to safety on the road.
Four-wheel drive is excellent for uphill traction.
But, it doesn't help much when going downhill. However, for the
morning drive up, with 4-wheel drive, you will very rarely need to
get out to mount chains on your tires, as long as the conditions are
not extreme and you drive cautiously.
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) is what you need for downhill traction,
to prevent the wheels from locking up and the car slipping on icy
roads. For your evening drive home, remember that 4-wheel
drive won't do much for you. Only ABS brakes or "traction
control" can help you on the downhill portion of your trip.
Traction tires are recommended in winter conditions.
But note that all-weather tires or mud-and-snow tires are not
considered to be traction tires. Only tires bearing a special
mountain logo are true traction tires. Click here for the
article on chains and
traction tires, which explains under what circumstances you can
get by without chains.
are always helpful on snowy and icy roads, and sometimes they are
the only possible way to proceed. Always carry chains, and put
them on when the signs advise you to do so.
avalanches, what causes them, how to test the snow, how to skirt
dangerous areas, etc. Educate yourself. Read books about avalanches.
Take a class.
out of bounds, in un-patrolled terrain:
Don't go alone. Have at least one ski buddy.
Wear an avalanche transceiver.
Carry an avalanche probe and shovel.
Powder / Crud
learning to ski powder cautiously, first only along the side of
groomed trails, so you always have an easy out if conditions get too
precautions when venturing away from the groomed slopes. Don't go
alone. Have a buddy. Even pair up with a stranger.
movements on ice have to be more subtle than on packed snow. Don't
use too much angulation. Don't lean into the turn. Don't trust ice. Go
gingerly, as if you were walking on eggshells. Tone down
everything you normally do on snow. Slow down. Adopt a wider stance
on skis (for stability). Avoid icy slopes, if at all possible. Think of it
as driving a car with completely bald tires. Keeping your
edges extra sharp might help a little.
ski what you can't see"
inspect the layout of the terrain park, and all the obstacles in it,
before you start launching yourself in the air. Know exactly
where and how you will land.
always be able to see and plan at least a couple of turns ahead of
you. Don't look straight at the trees. Focus on the spaces between
the trees. Your body has a natural tendency to follow your eyes. Visualize your path through the trees. If you don't know
what's behind a tree, slow down or stop.
cautious when skiing the steeps. But, also, don't be hesitant.
The steeper the slope, the more you have to lean forward and really
commit to a turn. The steeper the slope, the quicker you have
to bring your boards around (the shorter the turn radius).
Mistake #1: Hugging the hill, instead of staying
perpendicular to the terrain.
Mistake #2: Sitting back on your heels (hesitating, fearful).
CODE OF RESPONSIBILITY
up to you to eskew"
Most of the
rules revolve around avoiding a collision with other snowriders. So,
learn to avoid, to get out of the way, and to go around the other
Always stay in control.
control your turns. Ski within your abilities.
People ahead of you have the right of way.
your responsibility to avoid anyone who is further down the
mountain, below you. You see them, They don't see you. When
passing them, give them enough space, and be prepared in case
they suddenly decide to turn toward you, into your path.
When people ski fast and suddenly decide to turn and traverse,
it is amazing how quickly their path can cross yours. Be
prepared for such unexpected moves and give them extra space.
Stop in a safe place for you and others.
Don't stop just over a
crest where others can't see you.
Don't stop in the middle
of a narrow trail.
Don't lay down in the snow, where you are less visible. Make
Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
a trail as a busy road. Before entering, look uphill for
any oncoming traffic.
Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
brakes or safety straps are now mandatory on all our snow-toys.
Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
always a good reason why the ski patrol puts up signs and ropes.
There could be exposed rocks ahead, or cliffs, or avalanche
danger. Don't duck under ropes that indicate a closed
trail, and follow the advice on the signs, ... and you'll get to
go home safely at the end of the day.
Know how to use the lifts safely.
Don't be afraid to ask the lift operator for assistance if you
are new to the sport, or if you have a small child with you.
The lift operator can always slow the chair down for you and
lift the child onto the seat. NOTE: The child should
always be on the side of the chair closest to the lift operator.
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