The Importance of Snowboard SafetyEnjoying the danger and thrills of snowboarding is even better with a bit of safety thrown in!

Katie Blundell


2 years ago in News

Snowboarding is known as an “Extreme Sport”. I seem to be attracted to these sort of sports (I think I was dropped on my head as a baby). I love the thrill of them and the adrenaline rush they give you. Yes snowboarding is dangerous, but there are certain steps you can take to make it moderately safer (without taking the thrill out of it, don’t worry). You’ll never be able to protect yourself 100% but these days there’s an element of danger in most things. As long as you have a little common sense and respect yourself, others and mother nature, snowboarding should be an all-round amazing experience. Here is a little guide to some easy elements of snowboard safety…

Safety Gear

I have spoken so many times in the past about the importance of riding in a helmet. I still think this is THE MOST important piece of snowboard equipment you can buy/ rent. You need to look after your head! Make sure you get a helmet that properly fits as an ill-fitting one is almost as bad as not wearing one. You can buy other protection for various parts of your body too: knee pads, bum pads, back protector, elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guard. If you wear all of these, good on you, but some might feel a bit restricted and there are some who think the more protection you wear, the stupider you can be. If you’re not keen to wear them all, I would think about your weaker areas or areas you are more likely to injure or where you have old injuries. I have bad knees and a dodgy tail bone so I wear knee braces and bum pads, and of course a helmet for my brain. Try them out and see what works for you!

helmet

You can buy all this at The Board Basement or search online.

Injury Prevention

Injuries can happen anytime (I’ve popped my elbow out standing still in a lift line, true story). They can be small injuries like a little bruise to the bum, or big “season-enders”. Big or small, injures SUCK. There are things you can do to minimise the risks. First of all, it is so important to warm up before riding. If you have a fall and your body is stretched and warmed up, you are more likely to recover from it. Muscles, ligaments and tendons are easier to tear or strain if they aren’t warm. Also warm-down after a day of riding, especially if you only go for a week at a time. Most people forget about this. If you do this at the end of riding it will stop the build up of lactic acid in your muscles which can make them feel sore and tired. You’ll be able to ride again the next day feeling fresh. Another important thing is to know your limits. Don’t go throwing yourself down a black run/ hurtling off a death-defying jump on your first day of snowboarding. Work your way up to bigger and more dangerous stuff and learn to distinguish between right and wrong. If you’re nervous to do something because you haven’t done it before (but you KNOW you’re capable) or if your nervous to do something because its completely out of your capabilities.

Suncream

Often forgotten, but equally important, is protecting your skin. Even though it can be really cold and snowy, you still need suncream. The UV is very strong in the mountains because of the reflection of the sun off the snow. Also wind burn! You need a suncream that is specific for the mountains or at least one that’s waterproof and a maximum factor. I wear factor 50 everyday. I was silly when I was younger but then I realised I didn’t want to look like a prune or wrinkled old ski instructor. Don’t forget suncream for your lips too. A goggle tan is inevitable, but best to achieve it in a safe way without getting skin cancer.

Mountain Rules

More like a High Way Code for the mountains. If you break the mountain rules, you aren’t going to go to prison (in most cases, I did know someone that nearly did, true story). But it’s important to adhere to them as they are a guideline to keep you and others around you safe and make sure everything runs smoothly on the slopes. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Stay on marked runs/ trails/ pistes
  • Don’t go off-piste on your own
  • Always wait for the last person in group
  • Ride in a manner that doesn’t endanger others
  • Ride within your ability
  • Be in control at all times
  • The downhill rider has right of way
  • The uphill rider must choose a safe route to pass downhill rider
  • Allow enough space for overtaking
  • Don’t sit/ stand where people cant see you
  • Look before you leap
  • Don’t stop suddenly
  • If walking up/ down the slope, keep to the side
  • Respect the signs and markings on the slopes
  • Be aware of the difficulty of runs (ie: green, blue, red, black)
  • Allow enough stopping distance and stop below people not above
  • Definitely don’t go into areas that are cordoned off/ marked “danger”

Park Etiquette

Again, these aren’t like law enforced rules, more like courtesy and respect to others. It can actually be one of the safest places to ride as it’s more controlled and there are always lots of other riders there to look out each other. You can ride on your own, but never actually be “on your own”! Sometimes there are even signs at the top of a terrain park with some rules on it. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind if you’re venturing into the park:

  • Ride within your capabilities
  • Start small
  • Make sure landings are clear before you drop
  • Don’t stand/ sit/ picnic on landings
  • Don’t stand/ sit/ picnic on park features
  • Ride past and check out features first
  • Know your speed (changes each day, watch others, “speed check” someone)
  • Don’t hit a feature thats closed, it’s closed for a reason
  • Signal your drop in
  • Learn the signs for “OK” or “STOP”
  • Go one at a time and leave enough space
  • Respect beginners, you were a beginner once
  • Don’t be a dick

Mother Nature

I’ll finish with the most important bit of mountain safety (joint with wearing a helmet). You must, under all circumstances, respect mother nature. She’s a beast! Get to know the mountain, the weather conditions, the snow conditions and terrain. Mother nature is the most beautiful yet dangerous element of snowboarding and crossing her will undoubtedly end in trouble.

Now you are all clued up on mountain and snowboard safety, it’s time to get out there and enjoy the adventure!