We are each responsible for our own conduct on the mountains. The FIS - Federation International du Ski, the international governing body for snowsports, has drawn up a list of 10 comprehensive rules to follow to help keep us all safe when skiing, for use both on piste and off. Be aware, that skiing in contravention of these rules may invalidate your travel insurance if an accident were to occur as a result. As well as this formal list, there are several good tips it can be useful to follow.
FIS Rules for the Conduct of Skiers
These ten rules set out the principle of safe skiing for everybody on the mountain. It is important you follow all these rules at all times. Many insurance policies may not grant claims and resorts may pull your lift pass if found to be in violation of these rules.
Fundamentally, however, they act to provide safety and security for everybody on the hill, regardless of your purpose for being there.
- Respect for others A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he or she does not endanger or prejudice others.
- Control of speed and skiing or snowboarding - Every skier or snowboarder must move in control. They must adapt the speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to their personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic.
- Choice of route - The downhill skier has priority, as they cannot see behind them. A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose their route in such a way so as not to endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead
- Overtaking - A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that they leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.
- Entering, starting and moving upwards - A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes to ensure that they can do so without endangering themselves or others.
- Stopping - Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must never stop in narrow places or where visibility is restricted, such as on a blind corner or below the lip of a crest or jump. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move and clear the slope as soon as possible – if possible, someone should provide a clear warning in a visible part of the piste to divert traffic around the location.
- Climbing and descending on foot - A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the slope.
- Respect for signs and markings - Skiers and snowboarders must respect all signs and markings, including, but not limited to, “piste closed” warnings – many resorts may pull your pass if found in breach of this.
- Assistance - At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty bound to assist – provide first aid, divert skiers around the site, contact ski patrol.
- Identification - Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident.
In case of an accident, there are several tasks that need doing straight away:
- Secure the slope – clear equipment from the piste, and place people or crossed skis/board/poles in a clearly visible point up hill to warn of the obstruction
- Provide First Aid – Check the airway is clear, check the victim is breathing, cover and apply pressure to wounds, provide CPR, and provide warmth.
- Take a note of the location of the accident, using the piste name/number and any identifying features nearby, such as a numbered piste marker, lift stanchion or snow cannon, as well as number of people and injuries sustained.
- Alert rescue services – call Ski Patrol – the number is usually on a piste map – or contact them via a lift station – if part of a group, send the two strongest skiers to the nearest lift station.
- Establish the facts – including details of people involved, snow and weather conditions, place and circumstances of the accident and any markings or signs nearby.
Additional Safety Precautions
Whilst not part of the FIS Code of Conduct, the following are highly recommended to provide further safety:
- Boarders should always use a leash and place their board top-down on the snow when not in use, to prevent boards running away
- Always use a lift safely – clear out of the way quickly if you have fallen off a drag lift, clear the landing zone quickly of any chairlift, assist young children on and off chair lifts
- Ski within your ability – never assume you can ski or board and take lessons where appropriate.