My season's accumulation of grievances and grudges are not a big deal, but simple ski etiquette could cure these alpine annoyances and mountain mishaps, and probably improve everyone's day on the slopes. So here you go, my top ten skiing pet peeves.
Don't ski while talking on a cell phone, it's like driving while texting. Skiing and riding require your full attention. Cell phones should only be used as a communication device to hook up with people you are skiing with, not for blathering to your buddy at home while booking down the hill. How about pulling safely off to the side of the trail to make or take a call? And please refrain from long, loud extended conversations on the chairlift when in the company of others - surely that conversation can wait.
Don't crank your iTunes so loud and blare over your chairlift companions' conversation. Besides common courtesy, if you are so tuned out while skiing, you may not hear the approaching snowmobile or groomer.
Don't ski way above your ability level. It is okay to challenge yourself but it is not okay to endanger yourself or others by skiing out of control and being unable to stop, turn or avoid others. The trail designations, green circle, blue square and black diamond, are there for your benefit. Work up to each level and remember that trail designations are unique to each ski area, the level of difficulty typically refers to their trails - so a black diamond at Stowe is more difficult than at Bretton Woods.
Don't bomb straight down the trail just to reach the Terrain Park, make the most of your run, and your time in the park. Maybe it is just me, but I find it rude and reckless when park skiers just beeline to the park, cutting skiers off, then skid a big skid stop, producing a huge snow cloud to finally check their speed before the park entrance.
Conversely you should not just bomb through the Terrain Park, even though the best untouched cord lies on the sides. Whether or not you are using the elements; you must respect the other riders' turns and allow for safe intervals. Terrain Park etiquette requires that you be aware of who is hitting what element, who is next, when to call your drop, and quickly clear landing areas for the next jibber.
Racers, the ski area does not exist solely for your run. Cutting liftlines and carving huge trenched arcs on your way to the race course with no regard to other skiers (people who paid full price for their lift privilege) is not very cool, despite your expensive spandex suits and razor sharp skis. Assuming you are god's gift to skiing is ill advised. Very few of you, like .5%, will become the next Bode Miller or Lindsey Vonn, the rest will join the ranks of recreational skiers and hopefully find racer behavior annoying.
On the subject of lift lines, don't enter the lift corrals until you are ready to ride said lift. Standing with your board or skis blocking the entrance jams up the flow. Floundering with your gear, trying to find your group, digging for your ticket to show the liftie, and missing chairs makes you look like a joey (or a punter if you speak Canadian). Causing the lift to stop because you do not slide out in time for the chair will not win you new ski friends.
Don't attach your lift ticket to the main zipper of your jacket. It looks ridiculous, and worse, it whacks you in the face as you ski.
Don't be a gaper, avoid the big gap between your goggles and helmet, or your hat and helmet - it looks amateurish and will subject your forehead to the cold, wind, sun, and ridicule.
Don't assume you can just pick up the sport. Get a lesson, instead of teaching yourself or getting a few pointers from your buddy. The money spent on professional instruction will reduce your risk of injury, improve your long term enjoyment of the sport, and accelerate your proficiency in the sport of skiing or snowboarding. We can all spot a self taught skier by their technique (or lack of). Photos by Greg Burke
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familysktitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.