We welcome guest blogger Christine this week, writing about the popular sport of skiing, which can take place in extreme environments, with below-zero freezing temperatures, avalanche risk, altitude and unpredictable conditions, in addition to the inherent dangers linked to hurtling down a snowy slope at speed.
Founder of TheSkiGirl.com, a blog created after her experiences learning how to ski. Her goal is to provide skiers with the resources they’ll need to improve their skiing abilities and enjoy all that this amazing winter sport has to offer.
Skiing is an exciting and thrilling pursuit that is loved by many adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies around the world. High speeds, steep slopes, and a genuine connection to the natural world are some of the many reasons why this winter sport is loved by so many people. But many of the same factors that make skiing so amazing, also create inherent risks. Let’s take a look at the dangers of professional skiing and how to avoid them here.
One of the most common risks associated with skiing is bodily injury. The high speeds involved with the sport alongside natural and manmade obstacles make injuries an everyday occurrence on the ski slopes. No matter how skilled you are or how cautious you ski, the risk of injury is present anytime you head downhill.
According to research by Kevin G Shea et al. (2014), knee injuries account for approximately one third of injuries in skiers. This makes sense as you have two long planks attached to your feet when you are skiing - a bad wipe-out, wrong turn, or hard impact can put a tremendous amount of strain on your knees. Knee sprains, ligament tears, and even dislocations can occur when skiing.
Upper body injuries can also occur when skiing such as dislocated shoulders, broken collarbones, and sprained wrists. One of the most dangerous and worrisome things that can happen on the slopes is a head injury. This can be very serious and even result in death so it’s important to always (and I mean always!) wear a helmet when you are out skiing.
Sadly, actress Natasha Richardson (wife of Liam Neeson) was not wearing a helmet in 2009, when she suffered a seemingly innocuous fall while skiing on a beginner's slope on Mont Tremblant, Quebec, subsequently collapsing and dying from a blunt force trauma injury to the brain.
HOW TO AVOID BODILY INJURY WHEN SKIING
● Always ski in control. Many injuries occur when you ski too fast or beyond your ability levels. When you get in over your head, accidents occur much more frequently. Play it safe and stay at a good speed at all times.
● Wear a helmet. This is a must. A helmet can very literally save your life and is easy protection against one of the biggest dangers when skiing.
● Stay alert. This means you should always keep an eye out for other skiers around you as well as any other obstacles. Make sure you scout any jumps or obstacles before you ski off of them. Watch for any other people below you as well.
● Get in Shape. Many skiing injuries occur due to being in poor physical condition. Approach skiing as you would any other physically demanding activity. Exercise and strength training before stepping foot on the snow to limit your chances for non-accidental injury.
Skiing is a wintertime activity. That means that cold temperatures and large amounts of snow can be your best friend in terms of great snow and a long season. But these same elements can be dangerous as well. If you are not properly protected from the cold and snow you can risk putting your body, and even your life, in harm’s way.
Any exposed skin you have while skiing can lead to frostbite. This is a serious and dangerous skin condition that can be really painful and even lead to potential amputation. Cold and wet weather can also cause hypothermia, which can be a life-threatening condition that causes your body to shut down when it gets too cold.
There are 3 stages of frostbite: Early stage (frostnip), superficial frostbite, and deep frostbite, most commonly affecting extremities, like fingers, toes, ears and the nose. Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can often lead to deep frostbite, involving all skin layers and requiring amputation of affected areas in severe cases.
HOW TO AVOID COLD EXPOSURE WHEN SKIING
● Wear proper warm weather clothing/gear. You need to insulate your body against the cold and wearing the proper clothing is key here. Always wear gloves to cover your fingers. Properly layer your clothing to provide additional warmth and protection.
● Stay Dry. Another critical aspect of keeping your body warm and limiting cold exposure is keeping your body dry. Always wear waterproof ski pants and jackets to repel snow and moisture and keep your internal layers dry.
● Go inside when needed. If you’re feeling really cold, the best thing you can do is find a warm place, such as a ski lodge or other indoor location, to warm up.
Skiing is full of natural dangers as well. Obstacles such as trees can cause severe injury and be really dangerous. But Avalanches are also a concern, especially if you are skiing in the backcountry. These giant snow slides account for 20-40 deaths a year in North America and can be truly terrifying for any skier who has seen one or knows the danger they pose. Avalanches are nothing to take lightly and proper education and knowledge is key to avoiding them.
HOW TO AVOID AVALANCHES WHEN SKIING
● Educate yourself. One of the best ways to avoid avalanches and limit your potential danger is to be aware of certain conditions that cause avalanches and learn how to identify and avoid them.
● Play it safe. It’s always better to play it safe than to risk getting caught in a slide. If conditions look sketchy, don’t ski. It’s as simple as that. One good run is not worth your life.
Skiing is a dangerous activity. There is no way around that. But you can limit the dangers and avoid potential risks by following the highly recommended tips found above. Have you ever been injured while skiing? Do you think it could have been prevented? Let us know - visit our site!
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