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Winter Sports Check List

Be Safe on the Slopes

If you are planning a winter sports holiday, you should always take out fully comprehensive winter sports insurance as medical bills for such sporting injuries can be extremely expensive.

For example it could cost you up to £40.000 to be treated for a broken leg in USA or £8.000 for a broken arm in Austria. In addition to these obvious charges, you could need to be airlifted from a mountain side which could be in excess of £100.000 and this does not include damage to equipment.

Also double check your insurance for off piste skiing, many policies will not cover you for off piste skiing unless skiing with a qualified guide.

Heli-skiing is often NOT covered either, so we would recommend you read all the small print and ensure you have adequate cover for all the fun things you wish to do. If it’s not covered…..simple answer is DON’T do it!

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are travelling in Europe, it is essential that you take a valid EHIC with you. If you have an accident or become ill, you may find that you receive free medical treatment or certainly qualify for a reduction to your bill. Don’t be fooled into thinking this will cover all your medical bills though, but it should go someway to reducing them. Do not substitute your travel insurance; you may still need that to cover excess charges and things such as delay, baggage and liability. To apply for your FREE EHIC card, go to WWW.ehic.org.uk, it takes seconds and can save you a fortune.

Be in Peak Condition

We guarantee you will enjoy your holiday more if you are in peak condition. Skiing is a very energetic sport and you will exert a considerable amount of energy and use muscles you forgot you had. Being fit will also help to prevent injury and allow you to spend more time on the piste. Skiing holidays are often at extremely high altitudes, many over 2 miles above sea level, the air pressure and density is far lower than your body is used too, meaning you get tired quicker and de-hydrated a lot faster. Make sure you maintain your hydration levels, drink plenty fluids (not alcohol), 4-5 litres of water a day is the minimum we would recommend.

Know Your Limits

Did you know that drinking on the slopes is a definite no-no for insurance policies, if you are found to have been drinking whilst skiing and you end up having an accident, your insurance may be invalidated? In practical terms it also affects your judgement, co-ordination and reaction times.

Wear a Helmet

Wearing helmets is definitely a personal choice, however more and more people are choosing to wear them. Many resorts are now making it a legal requirement for children to wear them, but it really should be made compulsory for all people to wear them. There are more head injuries happen on skiing holidays than broken bones and could have easily been avoided with the correct head gear.

Sun or Snow Blindness

The sun is much stronger at high altitudes and although wearing sun screen may sound a little crazy on a skiing holiday, it is an essential item to take with you. Wearing goggles or glasses is essential too; they protect your eyes from the glare of the sun on the snow and offer UV protection too.

Choosing the Right Pistes

Skiers come in all different levels of ability and most European resorts will have enough choice to keep everyone entertained at a safe level.

It is very important to be aware of how the pistes are classified in your resort and will be indicated usually through a colour scheme, green being nursery slopes, blue being for beginners and improvers, red being for intermediates and black being for expert skiers. Always plan your route back to the village so you don’t get into difficulties or have to go off piste unnecessarily. The piste lay out and signs can vary through out European resorts and you should always obtain a piste map of the ski area.

Safety is Paramount

The International Ski Federation (FIS) have a code of conduct for all mountain users, it is a list of ten rules to ensure safety on the slopes, and they should be followed at all times.


  • Do not endanger others


  • Adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to your ability and the general conditions on the mountain

Choice of Route

  • The skier/snowboarder in front has priority, always leave enough space to pass safely


  • Overtaking can be dangerous, always slow down and allow plenty of space

Entering and Starting

  • Look up and down the mountain each time before starting or entering a marked run


  • Only stop at the edge of the run or somewhere you can be easily seen


  • When climbing up and down, stay to the edge of the piste


  • Obey all signs and markings – they are there for your safety


  • In case of accidents, please provide help where possible and alert the rescue services


  • Anyone who is involved in an accident, whether witness or injured should exchange address and phone number for insurance purposes

If you need to assist in the case of an accident, post someone further up piste to warn others, cross poles or put up snowboard so that other skiers can see you clearly.

Provide warmth and do basic first aid if qualified. Alert the rescue teams, giving place of accident, give piste name and nearest piste marker.

Try to give clear details of number of people involved and type of injury so that the rescue team can send the correct people and equipment. Take names and addresses of all people who witnessed the accident and also those who were involved, noting place time and circumstances in case police and insurance companies become involved.

Off-piste Safety

Off-piste skiing is becoming more and more popular recently with everyone wanting to experience fresh powder snow and the thrill of skiing on unmarked runs, however off-piste skiing can be extremely challenging and you should always head out with a professional guide who will know the area and take you over areas that are safe.

If you do go it alone, be sure to check your insurance policy as this can become in-valid, you can often pay an excess to cover you. If you do go off piste alone you do need to be fully prepared and equipped. This may mean carrying the appropriate equipment, at minimum an avalanche transceiver, a probe pole and a shovel.

We would also recommend a floatation device and a fully charged mobile phone with all the emergency numbers already programmed in. Make sure you gather all the relevant information on the area you want to ski so you know where you are at all times and know the quickest route back to patrolled areas. When you are off-piste please be aware of potential risks such as avalanches, rocks, cliffs, ravines, crevasses and other hazards.

Off-piste will open up much more in ski miles, always check the weather forecast, carry extra food and drinks and always let someone else know your planned route and expected time of return. They can, in turn advise the rescue teams if you do not show or suspect you may be in difficulty.

You can always get information regarding avalanche risks via the avalanche forecasts. These are given in most resorts where tests have been carried out avalanche experts. Recent avalanche activity is a great clue; you often find lots of slopes facing the same direction and at the same altitude that have had recent avalanche history will undoubtedly have avalanche risks too. There are national organisations in most countries which you can look up for avalanche forecasts.

Equipment and Clothing

A comprehensive guide on appropriate eyewear and ski and snowboard clothing can be found at www.skiclub.co.uk/, or check out our other blogs for more details.

Know Before You Go Campaign

Cheap Ski Holidays is a trading name of Hello Sunshine ABTA number K2931 and an Agent for ATOL Protected Operators. a trading division of Hays Travel Ltd, who are Members of ABTA. ABTA and ABTA Members help holidaymakers to get the most from their travel and assist when things don't go according to plan. We are obliged to maintain a high standard of service to you by ABTA's Code of Conduct. For more information on ABTA, the Code of Conduct and the arbitration scheme available to you if you have a complaint, contact ABTA, 30 Park Street, London SE1 9EQ, Tel 020 3117 0581 www.abta.com.

Cheap Ski Holidays, 3 Byron House, Hall Dene Way, Seaham, County Durham, SR7 0PY. Company Reg. No 1990682