Don't let an accident ruin your snow day
The fall collage of oranges and browns has been buried under a blanket of snow, and ski resorts all across Northern Utah are opening their doors for the season. Before you hit the slopes however, there are a few things you should know.
Your risk of serious injury or death is low; according to the National Ski Areas Association, 40.6 people die skiing or snowboarding each year nationwide while some 39,000 Americans die each year in motor-vehicle accidents (according to the National Safety Council). However, other injuries on the ski hill are much more prevalent.
Snow sports are a great way to stay fit and have fun during the winter, but don't go unprepared. There are several things you can do before heading up the mountain to prevent your day from being interrupted by accidents and injuries.
One of the easiest ways to stay safe on the slopes is by wearing a helmet. According to a study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 44 percent of head injuries related to skiing or boarding nationally (roughly 7,700 per year) could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing a helmet. While most ski patrollers are incredibly nice, nearly everyone would agree that a ski day is not improved by a concussion and subsequent trip to the patrol room. You may not think that helmets are "cool," but neither is being taken down the mountain in an ambulance
There are many different helmet styles available for a variety of prices, and it's easy to find one you like. You can even find helmets with designs on them, from flames to flowers, depending on your personal sense of style.
If you've spent the last few months shut in your room doing homework or playing video games, don't expect skiing or boarding to be as easy as strapping on some equipment and flying down the hill. Like all sports, some manner of conditioning is necessary. Being healthy and fit makes winter sports safer and makes it less likely that you'll want to go home and take a nap by lunch. Going to the gym a few times before heading up will give you increased stamina and leave you more in control while skiing.
Once your body's in shape, you need to make sure your equipment is too. All gear, whether rented, borrowed or owned, should be in good condition and well-fitting. In both skiing and boarding, having good boots is a must for safety and performance. Ill-fitting boots increase your chances of injury or muscle strain and can lead to a very uncomfortable day. Nobody likes cold or cramped toes!
Bindings are very important as well, particularly when it comes to skiing; if they don't release at the right time, you're more likely to suffer a severe injury. Bindings should be set according to your height, weight and ability, so make sure to take your gear in and get it checked by a professional before you start the season.
Lastly, if you're not an experienced snow-sports enthusiast, enroll in a few lessons. Although you'll have to spend some extra cash, you'll also save yourself humiliation and pain. For a more affordable option, ask an experienced skier or boarder you know if they'll teach you the basics, and then, start slow. Heading down the hill without control puts yourself and others at risk.
Skiing and boarding are great hobbies. They bundle exercise, fresh air, beautiful scenery and time with friends and family all in one. So, what are you still doing here? Get your gear, make a travel mug of hot chocolate, and head on up to the slopes -- with your helmet, of course! After all, this is Utah, home of "The Greatest Snow on Earth."
Kalli Damschen is a junior at Clearfield High School. She is passionate about reading, writing and her Christian faith. Contact her at email@example.com.