Every good adventure also needs boundaries. Something my kids aren’t necessarily fans of, but are quite used to.
Below are our tips for ensuring a fun and safe day on the slopes as a family:
1. Set a meeting place.
Families (or any large group) should set a meeting place in a centralized location just incase you split up or become lost. It is incredibly easy, especially on busy weekends, to lose your kid or your friend.
Before you even jump on the lift, make plans for lunch (time/place) so everyone can reconnect. Do the same thing for the end of the day and don’t rely solely on your cell phone!
2. Know the Skier Responsibility Code (applicable at most resorts):
Kids (and beginners) do not naturally know where/when it is safe to stop and when it is not. Common sense for us adults is often lost in a sea of adventure and excitement when it comes to our kids. For these reasons, review this list of “rules” before hitting the slopes:
- Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
- Whenever starting down hill or merging into a trail, look up hill and yield to others.
- Always use devices that help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
- Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
3. Know the rules in Terrain Parks
Stop on the side of runs, not the middle.
Stop before you drop below a hill, not just after.
Be aware of skiers to the sides and behind you, before coming to a quick stop.
If you can see the uphill skiers above you, then there is a good chance they can see you.
The terrain park is the best part of the day for my kids. But often I find it is my most stressful… not necessarily because I worry they will get hurt coming off a jump, but because I fear collision with other skiers or boarders. The rules in terrain parks are for their safety but as parents we need to take the time to instruct our kids in them.
For instance, they should stop at the top of the terrain park and wait in line for their turn. Not just “blow through” unaware of the other riders waiting. Common sense, right? Not for my kids and not for the 98% of young kids I witness every weekend.
They should also be aware of signals they might see and/or use. Arms crossed if a skier is down, arms in a circle if it is safe to proceed. If your kids are really young, stay with them in the terrain park so you can signal to other riders if they fall in a blind spot.
4. Discuss ways to cross a run and looking for uphill traffic.
Unlike crossing the street, the skier who is crossing a run does not have the right-of-way. In fact, the uphill skier does. But I cannot tell you how many times my kids have (and still do) charge into a run, completely unaware of riders coming down at them.
I like to think of this like crossing a street. Stop. Look. Proceed with caution.
5. Help your kids identify “safe strangers.”
This tip piggy-backs off our first point, set a meeting place. But what if you forget too? What if you never meet up? What if you lose a kid?
My husband and I help them identify who is safe to ask for help should they become injured or separated from us. Ski Patrollers, Lift Operations and Guest Services workers are great examples of “safe strangers.” And at many resorts, these people have noticeable jackets or uniforms making them easy to spot. Help your kids become acquainted with resort employees should they need them at some point.