Snow sports

Preventing injuries on the snow is just as important for a regular skier or snowboarder, as well as beginners. It is essential to build up your fitness, strength and flexibility before you get to the snow. Being physically prepared will enable you to get the most enjoyment from your experience and reduce the risk of injury.

Causes of snow injuries

If you behave in an appropriate manner while you’re out on the slopes, your chances of hurting yourself or someone else are significantly reduced. Many injuries on the snow are avoidable.

  • 70% of snow sports injuries happen when someone falls over, usually through user error
  • Most falls are from losing control, and this can be because the skier or snowboarder is going too fast for the weather conditions or overestimating their abilities
  • About 10% of accidents result from a collision with another person or object
  • 5% are lift-related
  • 5% happen through equipment failure, such as bindings releasing accidently.

Gear up and upskill

Preventing injury often comes down to skiing or snowboarding within your skills on the slope. Whether you are a beginner, or coming back to the slopes after a long summer away, get some lessons. This could save you a nasty injury that might keep you off the slopes for weeks, if not months.

Ski and snowboard equipment and knowing how you use it are also crucial for preventing or causing injuries. Making sure you are using your equipment properly and that it’s well-maintained goes a long way towards keeping safe.

For example, a simple way to help prevent knee injuries is to have your bindings correctly adjusted and functioning so the bindings release properly if you fall.

Safety equipment can help too, especially if you’re in rocky areas. Helmets are very light-weight and can be effective in preventing head injuries, such as concussion.

Ensure you take care out on the snow. You should:

  • act responsibly
  • have the right equipment that’s properly fitted
  • ski or snowboard within your abilities
  • wear protective gear.

Snow responsibility code

Behaving in an appropriate manner while you’re out on the slopes ensures you can have fun while reducing your chances of hurting yourself or someone else.

The eight points of the Code are about behaving in a commonsense manner that will keep you safe on the mountain. It is promoted and enforced across all snow areas – so get to know the code and enjoy your time on the slopes.

1. Stay in control at all times

Know your ability, start easy, be able to stop and avoid other people. Losing control is the number one cause of falls.

2. People below you have the right of way

The skier or boarder downhill of you has the right of way. Don’t forget to look above before entering a trail.

3. Obey all ski area signage

Signs are there for your safety. Keep out of closed areas.

4. Look before you leap

Scope out jumps first. Ensure the area is clear of others and use a spotter on blind jumps.

5. Stop where you can be seen

When stopping, try to move to the side of the trail and make sure you can be seen from above.

6. Don’t lose what you use

Equipment must be secured while walking or stashing. This goes for rubbish too. Remember to take all your waste with you so it doesn’t become a hazard for others (or the environment).

7. Stay on scene

If you are involved in or witness an accident, remain at the scene and identify yourself to the ski patrol.

8. Respect gets respect

Right from the lift line, to the slopes, and through the car park – treat others as you would want to be treated.

Last updated: 8 May 2014

Last reviewed: 22 January 2014