Before I took up skiing I knew little about the sport but was aware that skiers had a reputation for posing. I had a vision of hoards of skiers who were more concerned about what they were wearing than the activity at hand. Having no intention of spending a fortune on the latest must have gear, I feared being viewed as something of an oddity but I needn’t have worried. When I finally made it onto a mountain I discovered that my clothes were the last thing I should worry about and that posing on the piste had taken on a new dimension.
Actually the slopes were not full of budding fashion icons. There were some people who would clearly rather die than be seen in the wrong sunglasses but most people were not that vain. I was more concerned with keeping myself upright and more to the point avoiding being wiped out by other incompetent skiers or even worse, competent skiers flashing past me at warp factor 10.
The Need for Speed
It turned out that the need for speed was more a priority for many than the label on their ski jacket. The real pose is velocity, a trend which may be encouraged by mobile phone apps. It is a bit like boy racers in their hot hatches tearing around suburban streets. Speed counts when it comes to bragging rights.
A Lack of Instrumentation
The truth is that until recently skiers may have wanted to brag about how fast they were going but they wouldn’t actually know or be able to prove it. Unlike a car a pair of skies doesn’t come with a speedometer, until now!
There are now mobile apps which will accurately record your speed on the piste and they could be pushing people to the limits of their abilities. In an attempt to impress others and to claim the bragging rights skiers are pushing the envelope and using the apps to prove their case.
Statistics are showing that the number of serious head injuries is on the rise and doctors are reporting that more and more injured skiers are able to tell them exactly how fast they were travelling via their apps. There is a real danger than many skiers are too focused on speed and their apps and not enough on safety. There are now more collisions with a third of all head injuries sadly the result of skiers crashing into each other and more accidents are happening at high speed.
It could be that the apps are a contributory factor in the increase in accidents. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are. At 100 kph you will not have the time to take evasive action when you find an obstacle in your path and that obstacle could be another skier. I now know from personal experience that you can be slowly wending your way down the mountain in complete control and in then find yourself unceremoniously cleaned out without having made a single wrong move. It would pay to remember that a car in an accident at just 50 kph can be written off!
Thankfully I have thus far avoided serious injury either as a result of my own terrible skiing or the actions of a speed demon. I certainly don’t worry about my fashion sense. I look dapper in my Icepeak Jacket even if it has been partnered with a cheap pair of shades and in any case no jacket looks at its best in a crumpled mess on the floor or on a stretcher! Speed is fine under controlled conditions but public pistes are full of people like me who may not be entirely predictable. It’s great to look good but it is even better to be in one piece.
Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business owner who divides her time between writing, running her shop and the occasonal skiing trip.