A proper helmet is only one part of safe, responsible skiing. Sure, it is perhaps the most important piece of safety equipment you have. In fact, it’s also probably the smartest piece of your wardrobe you will ever invest in. However, helmets are just a piece of what it means to be a smart skier or rider—to properly practice the sport, you need to shop smart, do your research, and understand your mountain. Luckily, I’ve compiled a few tips to help you out.
First thing’s first: know the rules of the mountain. Nearly every resort will have a skiers’ code of conduct posted in the lodge. Before stepping out onto the slope, refresh your memory. Most codes of conduct include the following:
- Respect others
- Ski in control
- Respect the mountain
If a spot doesn’t seem like a safe place to stop, keep going. If your trails are merging and you’re on the lower end, yield to others coming down. Never go into marked-off territory, and always ski within your comfort zone—whether that means a certain speed, slope, or style. Even if you’re wearing a helmet, some accidents can be devastating.
To that end, you should know your mountain as well as possible. No, I don’t mean you should sit up late studying the trail map. Have a good idea of which portions have advanced and expert terrain, as well as which intersections may be dangerous. Always know where your closest chairlift and ski patrol booth will be and keep a copy of the map in your pocket.
Shopping smart is nearly as important as skiing smart. Skiing and snowboarding can be very expensive sports, and if it makes financial sense, rent ski equipment when you can. If you ski or ride enough, consider investing in a few essentials. I’ve heard that you should always purchase boots but rent skis, and that could be a great way to cut costs and improve safety. However, you should never settle for cheap equipment, especially if it could have an impact on your safety. Do your research—especially on helmets—before buying.
If you want to save additional money, purchase your lift tickets online and in advance. Most resorts will offer 10%-25% off the ticket window price if you purchase online. The same logic applies to season passes—buy in the summer to save hundreds of dollars when the season rolls around.