Winter sports holidays are an increasingly popular winter break and a great chance to combine a holiday with something a bit more active. If you're planning a ski or snowboarding holiday this year, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, follow our top tips for a healthy and safe holiday in the snow.
Make sure your insurance covers the activities you want to do. Medical costs and returning to the UK unexpectedly can be very expensive. Many policies will not cover damage to rental equipment or skiing off-piste without a guide, and many policies require you to wear a helmet at all times. So it’s worth checking your policy before you go!
Travelling in Europe? It’s essential that you take a valid EHIC with you. If you have an accident or become ill it will allow you to receive state-provided medical healthcare at the same rate as a citizen of that country.
Check your EHIC is in date - it needs renewing every five years, so if it has expired apply for a new card prior to travel. The EHIC is valid in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. But you still need to take out travel insurance, as an EHIC won’t cover all your medical costs, private treatment or return to the UK. Some insurers now insist that you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one. Apply for your free EHIC now at: www.nhs.uk/ehic.
Alcohol affects your resistance and awareness of the cold, and also impairs your judgment, coordination and reaction time. Drinking alcohol at altitude will affect you more quickly and your insurance cover may not be valid if you injure yourself or others whilst intoxicated.
Wearing a helmet is a personal choice but more and more people are choosing to wear them. In some resorts it is a legal requirement for children to wear helmets. Remember, many insurance policies require you to wear a helmet on the slopes regardless of the local legal requirements.
Visit www.skiclub.co.uk for more information, advice and tips.
The sun is much stronger at altitude so appropriate strength sun cream should be worn. When it comes to eye protection there are two main options; ski goggles or sunglasses. Always ensure goggles or glasses offer 100% UV protection.
A comprehensive guide on appropriate eye wear, ski and snowboard clothing and equipment can be found at www.skiclub.co.uk.
It is important to be aware of how pistes are classified to indicate their difficulty. This will make sure you don’t overstretch yourself and get into a tricky situation. Know your limits and don’t attempt slopes beyond your level of ability.
Green is the easiest, followed by Blue then Red and then Black. Itineraries are runs marked on the piste map but they are not groomed or patrolled and are therefore for the more experienced skiers.
Be aware that piste classifications vary in different ski resorts and countries. Piste conditions change during the day; what was a cruising blue run mid morning could be difficult, and more like a hard red by 4pm. Note that this also works in reverse, and sometimes a quiet red at the end of the day may be a lot easier than an icy and crowded blue.
Off-piste skiing and snowboarding has become more popular in recent years with the attraction of heading off the marked runs and seeking out fresh powder. But you should not head off-piste without being fully prepared. For example, you should make sure you take and are able to use competently the appropriate equipment - an avalanche transceiver, a probe pole and a shovel.
And don’t forget that many insurance policies won’t cover you for damage to rental equipment or skiing off-piste without a guide. So make sure you check your policy!
Details of equipment required and courses can be found on www.skiclub.co.uk.
For all mountain users, the International Ski Federation (FIS) has ten rules for skiers and snowboarders to help everyone stay safe on the slopes. They must be followed at all times.
For further information visit www.skiclub.co.uk.