Tips for Hill Awareness

By Dr. Carl Wierks

Whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder, it is important for you to be aware of your surroundings. Practicing proper hill awareness is vital to ensure everyone’s safety. Here is what you need to do on the hill to make sure you have fun and remain safe.

Before heading down the hill, make sure you look to see where others are. Give yourself a buffer between you and the people ahead of you and stay within a defined space so that you can avoid collisions from people behind you.

For snowboarders, it is essential for you to check your blindside frequently. This is often overlooked by snowboarders and can end up resulting in collisions.

If you need to stop while you are on the middle of the hill, make sure that you stop in front of a human-made object. If you stop in the middle of the slope suddenly, those behind you may not be able to avoid running into you. Stopping near or behind a human-made object, something others on the hill will already avoid, will allow you to get out of the way for others safely.

If you fall, first look uphill to make sure there are no oncoming skiers or snowboarders about to hit you. Once you know that you are safe, place your skis or board downhill with the edge facing sideways so that it is digging into the snow. This provides you with firm footing to help you stand up and head downhill again.

Even if you are an experienced skier or snowboarder, failing to practice proper hill awareness puts yourself and everyone else on the hill at risk. To keep everyone as safe as possible, make sure that you regularly check your blind spots, be aware of where others are around you, know how to stop safely and know how to get up after falling.