Piste etiquette is key for keeping everyone safe on the mountain, so the FIS (that’s the Federation Internationale de Ski, or International Ski Federation) has come up with 10 rules for all skiers and boarders to follow – kind of like the snowsports version of the Highway Code. Read on to see what the rules are, and find out some of our top tips for staying safe too.
FIS Rules of Conduct
1.Respect for others: Make sure you’re skiing or boarding in a way that doesn’t put anybody around you in danger.
2.Control of speed: Don’t go too fast for your ability or the conditions (what the snow or weather is like and how busy the slope is).
3.Choice of route: People in front of you on the mountain have the right of way, so choose your route carefully and leave space between yourself and others.
4.Overtaking: Also leave plenty of space when you overtake a slower skier or boarder, so you don’t bump into each other.
5.Entering and starting: When you join a new run, or start skiing again after stopping on the piste, look up the mountain first to make sure there’s no one coming that you could collide with.
6.Stopping: Only stop at the edge of the piste or where you can be seen easily, and definitely not just under a bump or roller. And try not to stop on narrow sections so you don’t block the way for others. If you fall over, move to the side of the run as quickly as possible.
7.Climbing and descending on foot: If you’re climbing up or down a slope on foot, keep to the side so there’s space for others to pass you safely.
8.Respect signs and markings: Piste signs and markings are there for your safety, so pay attention and obey them.
9.Assistance: If you see someone have an accident on the mountain, do your best to help, and alert the resort staff or rescue services if need be. Most piste maps have an emergency number on them.
10.Identification: If you see an accident, or you’re involved in one, swap names and contact details with the others, in case the authorities need to get hold of you later.
Our top tips
To make the most of your time on the slopes – and help avoid achy legs after the first day – do some basic exercises to prep your body before you go. Head to the gym if that’s your thing, or just look for simple workouts you can do at home to help you get fit for skiing.
Check your gear
If you’re hiring your skis or snowboard and boots, make sure you know your height and weight so the staff in the shop can fit your gear correctly. And check your helmet fits properly too – there shouldn’t be any gaps or pressure points, and the strap should be done up. If something doesn’t feel right, as the staff to check or change it.
Wearing layers is the best way to combat cold weather. Start with your base layer – a long-sleeved top and leggings – then add a fleece or wool mid-layer, topped with your jacket and salopettes. And if you get hot later, you can always take a layer off.
Protect your skin
Even on cold or cloudy days, the sun can still do damage, so put on sun cream to avoid getting a red face or goggle tan. And take lip balm to keep your lips from getting dry too.
If you’ve got kids, put a note in their pocket with your mobile number, just in case you get separated or they get lost.
Learn from a pro
Should you book ski school? If you’re new to the mountain and need to learn the ropes, yes. Don’t be tempted to get a friend or family member to teach you, unless they’re a qualified instructor – you don’t want to pick up any of their bad habits, and an instructor will explain the techniques properly and take you through exercises to build up your skills. Even if you’re more experienced, doing some lessons is a good way to refresh and improve your skiing.
Check the weather
Keep an eye on the forecast so you’re ready to make the most of good-weather days. You can get up early on bluebird days to ski first tracks in fresh snow, and keep going right until the lifts close. And if you see the weather’s supposed to be bad, you can plan for that too – like looking for tree-lined runs with better visibility, or checking out other things to do in the resort.
Take time to warm up each day by looping a few easier runs, and don’t push yourself too hard. Do slopes that are suitable for your ability level and gradually build up to harder ones when you’re ready. If you need a break, take it – popping into a mountain restaurant for a hot chocolate or a bite to eat is all part of the ski holiday experience.
It’s important to drink plenty of water when you’re doing a physical activity like skiing, especially at high altitude. Carry a water bottle with you or take regular pit-stops in mountain restaurants. And stick to soft drinks on the slopes – save the alcohol for après time, when you’re done skiing for the day.
Pick foods for breakfast and lunch that’ll give you loads of energy, like protein and carbs. And try not to eat anything too heavy if you’ll be doing lots of skiing afterwards – it’ll make you more tired. Check out some more tips on what to eat when you’re skiing.