Ski & Snowboard Etiquette
Understanding all of the rules and regs of the piste can be a little confusing and complicated at times. Despite their experience, even skilled skiers and riders can sometimes struggle with some of the finer nuances of mountain etiquette.
A solid grounding in the official (and unwritten) rules, along with some handy tips and advice is going to make your time on the hill safer and help you avoid any embarrassing faux pas!
What are the FIS (Fédération Internationale de Ski) skiing rules?
Image Source: Glenn Carstens Peters
1. Respect all users on the mountain and behave in such a manner that you don't endanger yourself or others.
2. Ride in a controlled manner and at a speed that is appropriate for your ability and the conditions (weather, terrain, traffic).
3. The same as driving a car, the onus is on the skier behind to leave enough space between them and other users on the hill.
4. When overtaking, leave plenty of space for the person in front. If there is a crash, it is the person at the back who is at fault, irrespective of the other party's actions. To help avoid a collision, shouting "on your left" or "on your right" to indicate your path of travel can help, but don't expect the other person to be fluent in English.
5. If you are merging on to another run, starting after stopping or travelling upwards; look up and down the slope before moving and take appropriate action to avoid a collision.
6. Look behind you when stopping to make sure no one is going to crash into you. When you do stop, make sure it's to the side of the piste and that you can be seen from above.
7. If you are climbing up the slope, do it at the side - out of the way of oncoming traffic.
8. Pay attention to and respect signs, piste markings and out-of-bounds fencing.
9. If there is a crash or accident – make sure to go and offer assistance, everyone using the hill is duty bound to help.
10. Following an accident all parties (including witnesses) must exchange names and addresses.
*Please be aware that - although these are the FIS rules, they may change slightly depending on your choice of resort and country.
At The Airport
- At the baggage carousel try not to block the whole area. You only need one person from your group to pass the bags back.
- Be aware of others when carrying or pulling your ski or board bag. A pair of skis to the head is painful (trust me).
- If you are sharing a transfer to the resort – promptly travel to your meet-up point. Everyone will be itching to reach the resort - your caffeine fix can wait!
- Rental shops are very busy on transfer day (Saturday). Be patient when getting fitted/collecting your equipment and you never know, you may end up with some better gear. If at the end of the week you had a great time on your set-up, a small tip is always welcome.
- You may be enjoying a bit of late night après but try to keep the volume down in residential areas. Locals live here all year round and have got to get up for work tomorrow.
- Put litter in bins or recycle it if possible. It keeps the town nice and tidy and helps to minimise the environmental impact of the resort.
Lifts & Gondolas
- Don't block the entrance into lifts waiting for your friends.
- Be polite and don't smoke on the lift – you may be outside but everyone is there for the fresh mountain air.
- Kids, the elderly and disabled skiers may need the lift to be slowed down for them. Be understanding - it will only be for a few seconds.
- When getting off the lift, hold your line and clear the area quickly.
- Make room for others in the gondola and don't rest your gear on the seats.
- When queuing, don't ride over other people's skis/snowboards or put your poles on them. Your ski or snowboard edge may cut into the resin top sheet which can lead to water leaking into the core and a loss of performance.
On The Piste
Image Source: Rob Wall
- Read all the notices at the bottom of the slopes – health and safety, closed runs/lifts, weather warnings, etc. and heed them. Runs are closed for a good reason.
- Have the Piste Control number in your phone from day one of your trip in case of an emergency.
- We don't condone drinking alcohol on the hill, but if you are going do it, be sensible about it – alcohol affects your decision making, control and may void your insurance. The best solution is to wait till the end of the day and have a drink at the bottom of the slopes.
- Don't cut queues for rails or jumps.
- Check your landing is clear or get a buddy to do it for you.
- Avoid stopping in or crossing over landings. If you do crash in the landing try to clear the area ASAP.
- Don't sit on boxes or rails – someone may ride into you, and you are stopping others from using that feature.
- Try small incremental progression, don't just hit something big straight away, you may hurt yourself or others.
- When queuing for a jump - call your run or raise your hand to indicate to others that you are going next.
About the Author:
Pete Fletcher - Outdoor Expert
Pete grew up hiking most of the trails in the Lake District before being introduced to skiing. A decade later and you're most likely to find him snowboarding, skateboarding or making a mean coffee.