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Cross Country Skiing Safety Tips

Even though most people believe that cross country skiing has a relatively short learning curve, if you are new to the sport, investing in a few lessons with a good instructor will be well worth your while. Once you have proficient skills to go out on your own, there are a number of safety rules you should abide by.

  • Before venturing out into the snow, let someone know where you will be skiing and what time you expect to return. This is particularly important if plan to ski the backcountry.
  • Backcountry skiers should acquaint themselves with avalanche safety procedures.
  • It is important to carry a map and a compass if you plan to ski on unmarked trails.
  • For longer excursions, wear a backpack that contains food, drink, a waxing kit, extra clothing, emergency repair equipment and a first-aid kit.
  • Be aware of your limitations and only ski on trails that are well within your level of ability.
  • It’s best to ski in groups of at least three people. That way, if a skier is injured someone can stay with them while someone else goes for help.
  • Become acquainted with the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. These include white patches on the skin and uncontrollable shivering.
  • If you plan to ski on lakes or streams, keep in mind that it takes a few weeks of below freezing temperatures to develop a safe thickness in the ice.
  • If you stop, be sure to step off the trail so that other skiers have ample room to pass.
  • If a skier from behind you calls out "track," be sure to move to the right to give them room to pass.
  • In order to avoid dangerous collisions, do not cut off other skiers when entering trails or overtaking.
  • On one-way trails, only ski in the direction that is specified. This is another collision avoidance rule.
  • If you are on a hill, descending skiers have the right of way. If you are climbing the hill, be sure to move to the far right.
  • If you fall, be sure to fill in the sitzmark.
  • Dress in layers. You may feel cold at first, but after awhile, you may get overheated from exertion.
  • Progress slowly. Keep in mind that if you venture out too far, you still have to make your way back!

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