10 Biggest Mistakes Skiers Make
If you think about it, skiing is a pretty weird sport: We strap two boards on our feet, grab two pointy sticks, and slide downhill with hundreds of our brethren. What could go wrong?
It takes a long time to get good at this strange pastime of ours, and we all make some mistakes along the way—even if it’s just losing a ski on a powder day or dropping a glove off a lift. There are a lot of derisive words for people who make boneheaded moves—jerrys, gapers, joeys—but we here at Wagner would like to remind everyone that we were once beginners, too.
So, in the spirit of entertainment and education, here are some of the biggest mistakes skiers make. Take it to heart or with a grain of salt.
1) Leaving your ski boots in the car overnight.
Most skiers only make this mistake once, and often it turns into another even bigger mistake: putting your frozen boots by the fireplace. Cold freezes the plastic to the point you can’t squeeze your foot into it—unless, of course, you’re guilty of mistake No. 3—and then the fire permanently melts it to the point where you can’t wear the boot at all.
2) Reasoning that the thicker the socks, the warmer your feet will be.
This is an easy mistake to make because the right way is not intuitive. In fact, people who have been skiing for years consistently err when it comes to how to dress their feet. Your foot, just like your buddy Tommy after one too many bourbons, wants to be nearly naked, with only one very thin sock and zero long underwear. (We buy the ¾ length kind. If we haven’t done the laundry in a while, we just roll the full-length ones up.) When you have too much material in your boot, your foot loses circulation and freezes. You can’t drive your ski if you can’t feel your foot.
KEEP ONLY YOUR SOCKS IN YOUR SKI BOOTS WITH THE FERNOS KNICKERS FROM STIO. Women's here.
3) Buying boots that are comfortable.
This is another extremely common sin that even experts can be guilty of from time to time. Hear me now and thank me later: Ski boots are not meant to fit like bedroom slippers. If your foot is in a mush bucket, there is a serious lag in power transmission, kind of like the car you drove in college with the bad fuel pump. A boot should fit like a very firm handshake—and while it shouldn’t cause you pain, it will simply never be “super comfortable.” Remember that a bootfitter can always make it bigger, but never the reverse.
4) Two words: Texas suitcase.
Also known as the "Houston handbag" or "Oklahoma suitcase," this is a perennial head-scratcher. When you don’t know how to carry your gear, take a look around and copy someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s just not that hard, people. Tips forward, skis over the shoulder, poles in the other hand.
(Questions? Watch this video.)
She's got it: tips in front, skis over shoulder, poles in the other hand. Your bindings keep your skis from sliding forward, and your arm/hand counter-balances the tails.
5) Leaning back…way back.
When we get scared, we instinctively lean away from the danger, which in this case is the steep slope ahead of us. Unfortunately, this is yet another situation in life where we need to face our fears head-on and get our asses forward. Leaning back on your skis not only makes you lose complete control of your skis and make you a danger to yourselves and others, but it can pop your ACLs like rubber bands, too.
6) Liftline mayhem.
“Alternate” is a three-syllable verb that clearly no one learned in high school. It means you go, then we go, then you go, etc. As the Kiwis say, "merge like a zip." And for gods' sake, please don’t step on my skis.
May you never find yourself in this situation. But if you do, please remember to alternate where lanes merge. Vail Ski Resort, February 12, 2020
Hey, bros, unless you plan to send it like Johnny Collinson, leave the GoPro in your sock drawer. Very reasonable people turn into unreasonable projectiles when they have a GoPro strapped to their heads, and no one–I repeat, no one–wants to see your footy anyway. (Not even your mom, though she may be pretty good at hiding it.)
8) If you don’t know, don’t go.
This is a rule repeated every time the Jackson Hole Tram docks at the top of Rendezvous Bowl. A loose translation? Don’t die. If you don’t know where those tracks through the powder lead, don’t follow them.
Corbet's Coulior and Jackson Hole's tram. Photo: jacksonhole.com
9) Bald tires on your vehicle.
If you’re THAT person, you’d best not tell anyone who’s ever been stuck on I-70 in soul-sucking 6-hour traffic caused by one car that couldn’t grip the road. Skiing happens on snow. And you usually have to drive on it to get there.
10) Airing off cat tracks.
Caveat: If you actually know how to air off the cat track, by all means, send it. For everyone else, spoiler alert, it nearly always ends badly. Keep your skis on the ground—and off of some poor kid’s helmet who’s skiing beneath you.
Save your backflips for appropriate places–like over a truck. Wagner's own "Graphics Guy" goes for it at the Ridgway Skijoring event in January. Photo: Scotty Kenton
Article by Kimberly Beekman
Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the title of “freelancer” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Steamboat, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.