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Getting up after a fall is something that every new skier needs to learn. Most new skiers have difficulty getting up safely and there are few important techniques to learn that will help you from whichever position you are in after a fall.
⚠️If you have sustained a very bad fall and you are dazed then don’t try to move, shout to call someone over for assistance. Moving could cause more harm.
Getting up when your skis are still on
Take your poles straps off and put your poles together in one hand. Now check your skis and untangle them if they are crossed or over the top of one another.
2. Keep your skis sideways to the slope
Shuffle your body and re-position your skis to be facing sideways to the direction of the slope. If you’re on a gradient, keep your legs below you. It’s very difficult to get up while your skis are moving downhill and out from beneath you.
3. Bring your skis close
Bend your knees and get your skis in as close to your body as you can. It’s easier to get up when your body is less sprawled out and your center of gravity is closer to where you plan to stand.
4. Support yourself upright
With your skis close and your knees bent, use your hands to support you as you lift your upper body upright. Put your hand close to your body as you use it to push up. Pushing up from an outstretched arm will make it more difficult to stay balanced as you come into your crouched position.
5. Crouch over your skis
Push yourself to a crouched position, so you’re bent down low with your weight over your skis facing to the side of the slope. Make sure you’re bent forward with your weight over the front of your skis and not standing into the backs of them. Remember to keep your skis sideways to the slope as you do this.
6. Stand up
Now push through your legs and stand up If you’re on a gradient, edge your skis into the mountain so they do not slide parallel as you stand up and take you off balance. Before you ski off to check that your boots are firmly in your bindings as they may have come loose during the fall. If you’re in doubt -- use your pole to unclip the boot binding and then clip back in.
❌Trying to get up while your skis are facing downhill.
✅Keep your skis sideways to the piste so they don’t slide as you get up.
❌Not keeping your skis close together as you support yourself upright.
✅Keep your skis close together so you have a more stable base.
❌Putting too much weight on the back of your skis as you stand up.
✅Keep your weight over your ski boots.
❌Trying to get up while skis are too far away from your upper body,
✅Bring your skis close to you before you try to make yourself upright.
❌Pushing off the snow with your arm outstretched too far.
✅Keep your arm close as you upright yourself to give you better arm extension, balance, and a more forward stance.
How to get up using ski poles
If you have your ski poles nearby, you can use them to support you as you get up from the snow.
Make sure your skis are uncrossed, close together and facing sideways to the mountain. If you’ve fallen with your skis higher than you, shuffle on the ground or swing them around over you so your skis are below you.
Now bend your knees and bring your bum as close to your skis as you can to create a stable base.
Plant one pole at an angle into the uphill and use it to push yourself upright.
Put both your poles together and place them next to your uphill hip. Clasp your left hand over the bottom and reach your right hand on the top of the pole.
Push with your left hand and pull with your right in one fluid movement to pull yourself onto your feet.
Getting up when your skis are off
If during your fall your skis have come off their bindings, then you’ll need to walk down or uphill to gather your skis. You should be familiar and comfortable with putting your skis on the flat before you make your first ski-detaching tumble on the mountain.
✅As you walk uphill: dig into the snow with your toe boots to make a small platform to support you on each step.
✅As you walk downhill: dig firmly into the snow with the heel of the boot, again to provide support.
⚠️If you try to walk as you would normally, you will slip, slide and fall!
Once you’ve gathered both skis follow this order of events:
1. Put skis flat at a 90° angle
Place both skis together facing sideways to the direction or the mountain. Push them into the mountain so they sit flat relative to the slope of the gradient. The steeper the trail, the more you’ll need to push them into the mountain and create a platform. On very steep terrain -- use your hands to dig a groove.
2. Stand below the skis
Pressure on the skis will make it want to slide away, so by putting on skis from the downhill position you reduce the chance of this happening.
3. Put downhill ski on first
Move your downhill leg over to the other side of you and into the downhill ski. Lead with toe and clip in firmly.
4. Edge the ski
Now that one foot is in the ski, edge the ski so it doesn’t slide and bring your other foot around..
5. Clip into the second ski
Toe first and stand into the ski, whilst edging both skis into the mountain to prevent sliding. The steeper the hill, the more you should tilt the ski into the mountain.
Tips for getting up on a steep slope ⛰
On steep firm snow, getting back on your ski’s is much more challenging.
Collect both skis and then hit your boots into the snow to create a small platform to stand on while you do the following:
Upturn one ski
Put both poles and one ski upright into the snow (we can use this ski as support).
Make a ski platform
Take the other ski and dig it vertically into the slope, tail first to make it sit still and supported.
Remove any snow
Remove snow from the bottom of your boot and steady yourself with the upturned ski.
Clip into your first ski
With one foot firmly planted in the snow, place your boot into the ski and clip back in. At this point, your standing foot is facing into the mountain and your boot foot at a 90° angle as you clip in. Because you can’t directly stand into the ski, you can pull the ski up as you push your heel down to create a strong connection into your bindings.
Once you’re into your first ski, step up with your free boot to sit above the ski that is on. Keep your tightly angled to prevent any sliding.
Put your second ski down
Grab your ski and dig it into the snow to sit vertically. Use your poles to support you as you do this.
Clip into your second ski
Put your free hand beneath the ski as you place your boot into it and push up and press down to clip in firmly into your bindings.
- Always keep your skis edged into the mountain and facing sideways from the slope.
- Always put on the downhill ski on first.
- When walking uphill, dig in with the toe of your boot first.
- When walking downhill, dig in with the heel of your boot.
- Lean over your skis as you put them on, not backward.
Go cautious and take it steady fellow skier!
How to fall on skis?
After reading this you might be wondering what the best way to crash is.
Yes, there are in fact techniques for failing that will help prevent the most common injuries.
The key is to distribute your weight across a greater surface area.
If you fall on your back or side, smash your arms straight down by your side to take the impact.
If you land on your front, put your hands out to protect your face and head.
If you’re interested, I wrote a detailed walkthrough on my article: How To Fall On Skis & NOT Hurt Yourself.