Skiing etiquette 101: How to behave when hitting the slopes

Indulging in a lavish Ski escape? Heed our handy advice for slope-side behaviour.

This winter, make the most of your alpine adventure with an unwavering indifference to others. Today’s mountain etiquette can be simply employed through blatant disregard. Follow our foolproof guide to slope etiquette to guarantee a season to remember.

Right of way
While it’s true that the skier in front has the right of way, it may also be true that they are in the way. As the better skier, show your dominance via your skill by confidently extolling your intended line of passing as you approach to overtake. Ideally navigated at a distance no greater than one metre (at speed) from the other person, alert them of your presence with phrases such as “better skier passing” and “professional coming through” in languages other than your own, thus displaying courtesy for their unknown origins, while simultaneously displaying your own worldly experience. Remember, much like driving, in the case of a collision, the skier at the back is always the responsible party. Any such incident should be met with a swift retreat back to the comfort and privacy of the café for a heartening glass of red before you can be held accountable.

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Assisting others
It’s incredibly amusing when someone physically eats snow on the mountain. A ballet of head, over heels, over poles, over skis. But while these masses of meat, metal, pine and plastic can be a real traffic jam, it must be noted that yard sales of this variety can happen to the best of us. Next time you approach such a mess with the intention of gliding by laughing, pause to consider that this very pile-up could be the local mayor, or even Kate Hawkesby. As such, always provide assistance if their equipment and attire point to affluence or power.

Lift line cutting
Lift lines can be notoriously long at even New Zealand’s less popular ski fields. Save time through ignorance, maintaining a steady pace towards the chairlift cutting into any gap made available in the pack. Should comment arise simply respond with shock and confusion that you thought they were all waiting for someone. Aides to ignorance during lift line cutting include; headphones, cell phones, iPads, crying children or fiddling with your Go-Pro.

On the lift
Pull the safety bar down immediately, as your health and safety are much more important than any potential risk of injury to a pesky stranger in your vicinity. Be sure to avoid and ignore any attempts at conversation from said stranger, chair lifts can have a habit of stopping, at which time you’ll have plenty of time to chat. Aides to ignorance on the lift include; headphones, cellphones, iPads and searching for something that isn’t there… every pocket.

Exiting the lift
Directly after your exit from the chair join your fellow skiers in a communal cluster. This is the perfect place for idle chat, business calls and selfies. Less experienced skiers and snowboarders who become easily frazzled at the sight of the gathering crowd, promise to wobble amusingly and often times fall over providing added entertainment.

Don’t waste time on the nursery slopes, you’ll progress more swiftly by skiing alongside those you wish to emulate. Only black runs will expose you to the challenges you need in order to become as good as your idol. If you’re having trouble keeping up, try skiing in a perfectly straight line and remember to always feign complete composure – at any cost.

Lesson awareness
Much like a pat on the backside for the waitress, exerting your superior skills over plebs gathered in a lesson formation with a genial spray of snow is a given. However do take particular care with spray management around the train of children zig-zagging their way down piste behind an overzealous instructor, as spray above waist height could be considered child abuse.

Pausing on piste
At times you may be affected by fatigue or come across the perfect photo opportunity while on piste. Stop directly in the middle of the slope and take your time to do whatever you need to. In this position your pictures will have fantastic symmetry and, unless incompetent, other skiers will be able to see and avoid you with ease.

Going off piste
Telling others you’ve been skiing off piste is much easier than actually skiing off piste, and will do wonders for your on field respect. Use phrases such as “traversed a little in search of fresh powder” and “a few drops and a bit of biff but nothing extraordinary”.


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