These days’ people are skiing and riding faster than ever before. Whether on groomed slopes, bowls, glades and off the trails, the average speed of skiers and riders has increased due to better ski equipment, snow making and grooming.
Add to that skis and snowboards are now built to float and make turning easier in the powder and the crud and you have a population of riders of different abilities ripping around the resort.
Unfortunately many of these skiers are distracted as well by headphones, mobile phones and helmets hindering the riders hearing and attention to their surroundings and other. These days it is safer to assume others skiers don’t hear you coming than it is to assume they are listening and paying attention to others.
This makes for a combination of challenges for both riders overtaking slower skiers and slower riders being over taken by faster ones. It is important to remember that the rider downhill of you has the right of way. The obligation to stay clear falls on the up hill skier or snowboarder.
The obligation of the downhill skier or snowboarder is to, stop in view of uphill traffic and to enter slopes and intersections by looking up the hill and must avoid on uphill traffic.
When it comes to overtaking a slower skier or rider on a groomed trail there are a few basic techniques when overtaking others.
The first step is getting the slower skier in you line of sight as early as possible. This will add awareness for you on how they are skiing, their ability, style and how much of the trail they are using. Try and get a sense of their turn shape, rhythm and pacing.
Keeping in mind it’s the obligation of the skier uphill of the skier below to keep clear and overtake in a safe manner.
If the trail is crowded come up behind the skier and sync your turns with theirs and when ready to pass break out of rhythm and turn above them and in the opposite direction. This will provide some time and distance away from them. As you make your next turn in their direction open up the radius of your turn and increase your speed slightly. Now you will be in their sight and passing them downhill of their next turn with room to maneuver if needed for a clean pass. This allows will allow them to see you and it does not startle them or interfere with their run.
If am on a steep run off piste or in a narrow place never over take another skier until they stop and give you the ok to pass. Few skiers or riders follow this advice these days but it is very important especially here at Big Sky with steep terrain and narrow rocky areas. Here there is big potential for skiers and riders falling and sliding long distances.
There is plenty of room out there for everyone if you are an expert skier and snowboarder riding faster then others have respect for others traveling slower than you and remember the rider below you has the right of way. Give others time and space to descend at their own pace. When passing don’t startle cut off or impede anyone’s path. This will make for a safer day on the mountain for all.