Blue skies and sunny days in the mountains…..what more could you want? Er – a bit more snow please! Whilst the french alps had a good start to the season, warmer temperatures, rain and lots of skiers over the Christmas and New Year periods have left the slopes a bit scratchy in parts, especially in lower resorts.
Today I skied with my 5 year old daughter and my mother. Skiing with both a small child and an older lady on busy and icy pistes made me nervous. Ha – my mum will kill me for writing that. My mum is a keen skier and far from elderly, however she does suffer from osteoporosis. This really brought home to me the fact that a fall on hard packed pistes would be very unforgiving, and in my mums case could very likely lead to a broken bone. This is a risk my mum has decided to take as she has no intention of giving up skiing. However, I certainly picked my routes today to avoid the ice as much as possible.
Hard icy pistes can influence injury patterns in skiers. Whilst there may be less knee ligament injuries, which are particularly prevalent after a heavy snow fall, when it is icy we see more impact injuries that can affect the pelvis, back and shoulders. We also see a rise in general knee problems and an exacerbation of pre-existing conditions. These are usually easily treatable and a physiotherapist can usually help you understand and manage your injury or pain.
Skiing on icy snow can be scary. It requires skill and precision. I asked some fantastic ski instructors what their top tips are when skiing skiing on the ice?
Gavin Paley The Snow Institute, Morzine, Avoriaz and Les Gets
Stay balanced over the middle of your feet, with a slightly wider stance than normal. Look ahead and make the middle of your turn through the softer snow that has been scraped aside by other skiers. Turn your feet slowly and avoid harsh movements.
Elaine Bunyan Elaines Elite Coaching, Val d’Isere, Tignes, Ste Foy, La Rosiere, La Plagne and Les Arcs
Don’t panic and keep your speed to a minimum. Stay over the downhill ski (don’t lean into the hill) so your hips are down the hill. Don’t try to ski but rather slide over it until you find a piece of softer snow to break. Turn on the softer snow, slide and survive! If its too icy avoid that piste and stay within your limits. Drink lots of hot chocolate.
Wayne Watson Alpine Experience, Val d’Isère
On ice use a controlled side slip with feet well apart. Over edging and fighting is a recipe for disaster.
Caroline Barley Ultimate Snowsports, Val d’Isère & Tignes
On an icy slope go with it, stay balanced, twist and slide. Don’t try to force the ski to grip because it won’t – go with it. Be on top of the ski.
Lara De Agostini Platinum Ski School, Val d’Isère
Use your body as a spring and bend the three main joints evenly (hips, ankles and knees).
Rich Murray New Generation
Relax and understand the limitations of your equipment. A lot of skis will not grip on ice, so relax and go with it and be ready to grip when they will. Racers make their skis much sharper, a tourist ski isn’t designed to grip the same way.
Alan Okrafo-Smart Mountain Masters, Val d’Isère
When skiing on hard packed, icy snow keep the turns small so you don’t pick up too much speed. Try to blend the turning of the skis, the edging of the skis and the weight transfer as smoothly and progressively as possible form turn to turn.
Steve Ricketts BASS
Stand centrally on your skis to survive the ice. Face downhill to keep your weight on the lower ski to travel with the ski. If you are on your uphill ski you are more likely to have your feet swept from beneath you.
Liam Luke TDC Ski, Val d’Isere
Go with it, stay balanced and turn in the soft stuff.
Max Kratter Oxygene Ski School, Val d’Isere
Move your body facing down the hill and keep your weight on the downhill ski. Let it go!
Thank you to everyone that has let me pick their brains. There are some very useful tips which will hopefully help to prevent injuries occurring.