Ski Etiquette: The Rules of the Slopes

Another ski season is nearly over. We drank, we froze, we watched avalanches, we endured blizzards, we sipped beer or mulled wine in the sun… and we skied (or snowboarded). We can now look back with rose tinted glasses. Or, we can moan about those people with lack of Ski Etiquette. Today, I’m going with the latter.

Alternatively, avoid skiing completely and just drink

Alternatively, avoid skiing completely and just drink

There are many types of skier or snowboarder out there. It’s a dangerous world, on piste, and there are a lot of rules of the slopes to think about. I can totally understand how beginners feel nervous, get rigid and uneasy about their surroundings.

It’s how I still feel about surfing. The worry that nature will turn against me at any moment, deciding I’m not worthy of its time, or that some idiot will knock into me and I won’t be able to recover. Or, more worryingly, that I am the idiot.

Just like I get frustrated with people while I navigate the streets of London back home (I’m sadly one of those determined, fast walkers who charge from A to B as if their life depended on it and will furiously tut at other commuters and slow tourists… under my breath of course. I am British after all.) I also get frustrated at other skiers. Nowhere near as bad though, luckily.

Always good to take a moment of calm

Always good to take a moment of calm

So here are the types of skiers and snowboarders to avoid, and the mistakes to abide to when hurling down the slopes yourself. It’s sort of like road safety: be prepared!

Keep your poles to yourself

You know those “golf umbrellas” people carry (Londoners, you’ll know this well)? The long ones that aren’t retractable and have a pointy end? Yeah, those. People just swing them as if they’re an extension of their arm. They’re not. They’re pointy and they hurt. This is the same with ski poles. I am BEGGING you, think of the way you’re holding them.

Points down, and straight. Believe me, they could take someone’s eye out and you just look like an uncontrollable buffoon with them swinging around up in other peoples’ faces.

Chair lifts: wait at the side


Families or friends that ski together inevitably go at different paces, meaning you’ll end up back at the chair lifts at different times.

This point is simple: it’s a fast turnaround with lots of people shuffling along like penguins with large planks stuck to their feet. While waiting for your family/friends, wait as far over to the side of the designated queue area to make the whole process smoother :)

If you’re behind, you’re in charge

Ahem. This is to say that if someone’s infront of you, perhaps poorly skiing, it’s up to you to watch and adapt according to what they’re doing. They can’t see. They don’t know you’re there. There are no rear view mirrors in skiing. Don’t cut into their path and don’t go so fast with a lack of control that you smash into them. Keep an eye on what they’re doing, it could save you some hassle.

Taking up the whole piste

Oh, this is frustrating. This is when you get someone who’s not quite sure of themselves uses the entirety of the slope to turn. I usually don’t get angry at people who are slow and hesitant (they’re mostly harmless) but when I’m really looking forward to skiing my way down my favourite part of the slope, having to wait behind someone sucks the fun out.

Solution: if the slope is wide enough (if it’s narrow, this point doesn’t really serve a purpose), stick to one section of it. It’s safer for you and the held up person behind you.

My mum obeying ski etiquette and posing for a picture!

My mum obeying ski etiquette and posing for a picture!

The Guy Who Thinks He’s Awesome But He’s Not

You know the one. They get a little too cocky and think they’re king of the slopes, thinking the faster the better. Ultimately, they don’t have much consideration for other people and while they show off, they end up hurting someone or making a beginner feel really uneasy.

I’m all for people enjoying themselves and having fun – I hurtle myself down slopes whenever I can – but cockiness is a pet hate of mine and it’s just bad ski etiquette.

Piste Rage

It’s seriously a thing. Look, guys. Mistakes happen. There are silly beginners, cocky skiers and all sorts of other people and you can’t choose who you share the slopes with. So if you knock someone down, say sorry and help them up if they need it. If you got knocked down, don’t start a shouting match – it’s not worth it. (My advice? At most, call them a dick, ski on and brush the whole incident off)

Who can get mad at these views?

Who can get mad with these views?



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