Skiing and snowboarding are exhilarating winter activities that appeal to people of all ages. However, as with any sport, the weather can affect the safety of participants, and winter weather presents very specific challenges. With waves of intense cold and severe snow conditions, it is inevitable for weather-related incidents to occur if you fail to acknowledge nature’s warnings before heading out to the slopes.
To spare yourself from threats to your health and well-being, be sure to undergo proper training and remain proactive when taking part in winter sporting activities.
Here, we discuss how weather affects slope conditions, along with some safety tips to avoid ski injuries.
Depending on the air temperature, the slopes can give you either a grueling slog or an enjoyable challenge as you ski or snowboard. To get the most satisfying and the safest experience, you need to tune in not just to the weather forecast, but also to the local ski forecast to make sure temperatures are suitable and conditions are safe. Severe winter weather can be deadly; don’t hit the slopes unless you know there are no significant chances of fatalities.
The ideal temperature for winter sports such as snowboarding and skiing is below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. In terms of slope conditions, colder is better. That’s because active snow sports rely on dry, powdery snow for maneuverability, especially at high speeds. Just a little warming over 30 degrees results in slushy snow. This type of snow condition makes it difficult for skiers to control their movements as they turn. In addition to causing extra effort and more restricted movement, slushy snow can increase one’s chances of suffering from a serious injury or accident.
Untoward incidents are also due to avalanches, collisions with an object, and other dangers that may arise when the conditions are not right. In fact, the National Ski Areas Association has stated that over the past ten years, there have been an average of 41 fatalities annually.
Ski Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Because of the high speed of skiing and snowboarding, injuries from these sports can be very serious. The worst skiing and snowboarding injuries include a broken back, traumatic brain injuries, and intense head injuries. The participants who most commonly experience these injuries are advanced skiers and snowboarders who go fast on the intermediate trail. Elbow and wrist injuries are common among snowboarders, while knee injuries are typical with skiers.
Actions you can take to keep safe on the slopes include the following:
- Wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions on the day you are going out. Use layers and go with waterproof material at least with the outside layer. Wet cotton doesn’t insulate and cold limbs put you at higher risk of injury.
- Adhere to guidelines on the slopes such as yielding to others on the mountain and choosing the appropriate level of difficulty based on your ability.
- Condition your body before skiing or snowboarding by doing simple stretches.
- Stay hydrated to prepare for ski areas with high elevations, and eat lightly before heading out.
- Study the park terrain carefully and be familiar with its layout. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if unsure about the trail you will take.
- Understand your proficiency level in the sport. If you are just snowboarding or skiing for the first time, then stick to the beginners’ level. Move up to an intermediate or advanced level when you are ready.
By following these tips, you can have a more meaningful experience on the slopes while keeping free from harm.
Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht, M.D. is a specialist in sports medicine and orthopedic surgery at the Institute for Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine.
He and his team bring superior skill and experience to the effective treatment of various sports injuries for a quick recovery and the overall well-being of their patients.