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How to behave on-piste | The 10 FIS rules

Ski pistes are white, wide, and beautiful. Carving down those pistes is fun and gives you a feeling of freedom. Additionally, it certainly should be that way, you are on your winter holidays. You break free from any kind of restrictions in your daily routine and life. Still, though there are rules on how to behave on-piste. Simply to keep you and all your skier companions safe. We call them the FIS rules because the International Ski Federation (short FIS) agreed upon this code of conduct for skiers together with 133 ski associations worldwide.

It's just 10 easy rules to remember and it is definitely in your interest to know them because violating them could mean you lose your ski pass. So, knowing how to behave on-piste is a crucial part of learning how to ski.

Let's see what these rules are, why each of them makes sense, and find a free PDF version of the rules attached to the end.

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 1:

Respect for others

A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he does not endanger or prejudice others.

Easy right? Yes, respecting others on-piste is one of the most important rules of them all. A piste is a beautiful space we share. No matter which sports equipment we use. If you are a skier, snowboarder, or somebody who tries other things like a snow fox. We all deserve to enjoy the pistes and ski lifts. Therefore, look out for each other so that we can have a perfect ski day together.

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 2:

Control of speed and skiing or snowboarding

A skier or snowboarder must move in control. He must adapt his speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to his personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic.

Furthermore, there are certain times of the day on which a piste is busier than other times. According to those times, we need to adjust how we behave on-piste. This rule is basically like any other traffic regulation. Somehow it comprises many of those in one: Control of speed and manner of skiing prevents many accidents from happening. Remember to always slow down and shorten the radius of your swings on busy times. If there are fewer people on the piste you can do bigger and longer swings and carve down faster.

Nina skiing at Zürs
How to behave on-piste | FIS rules | picture made by Jakub Sedevy

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 3:

Choice of route

A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his route in such a way that he does not endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead.

Austrians would say, that this rule must be clear because nobody has eyes on the back of their heads. This idea poses some kind of contract with strangers. A contract built on trust: I take care of the safety of the person in front of me and my counterparts behind me ensure my safety by doing the same. This concept works perfectly for all skiers and snowboarders alike because it frees you in your skiing (or snowboarding) experience. The pure imagination of always looking back up the piste and making sure nobody crosses your way seems impossible.

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 4:

Overtaking

A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that he leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.

This rule might underline the freedom you have on pistes. You can overtake anyone from any direction but still, you need to make sure that they have enough space to ski on without any interruption. Your overtaking maneuver should not distract or shock your skiing colleague. Just think about yourself, how would you like to be overtaken by someone else? This answers the question of how to behave on-piste on such occasions.

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 5:

Entering, starting, and moving upwards

A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes that he can do so without endangering himself or others.

When you learn how to ski, this is one of the first rules you should learn when going on the piste. Looking up prevents you from crashes and other accidents. It is the same as in any other discipline: e.g. nobody would drive into a busy crossroad without having a look whether it is free or not.

Photographer: Quenten Janssen | Source: Unsplash

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 6:

Stopping on the Slope

Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the slope in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move and clear of the slope as soon as possible.

When explaining this rule we usually tell the story of the following scenario: A loving couple, skiing in their romantic skiing holidays, wants to show their affection for one another on the piste. As clever as blind lovebirds sometimes can be, they stop behind a hill on the piste – because who wants to be bothered during the perfect kiss? That is when somebody jumps over this hill, believing nobody is behind it because he cannot see them. Boom. Crash. Accident for nothing.

Therefore, if you need to stop on the piste do so on the edges of the piste where people can see you clearly. If you fall in a blind summit, please try to clear the slope as soon as possible or help others who did fall in such a spot by making them visible and warning others.

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 7:

Climbing and descending on foot

A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the slope.

This has to be done due to rule No. 6 and because you do not want to disturb others skiing or snowboarding down the piste.

Best ski resorts in Europe – check it out.

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 8:

Respect for signs and markings

A skier or snowboarder must respect all signs and markings.

Not only FIS rules tell you how to behave on-piste. There are many markings on the side of the pistes that signalize the difficulty of the run by color and show you where it starts and ends. Even on the foggiest days, you won't get lost in the mountains. Some signs show where dangerous mountain paths being so there is no chance that you accidentally lose track. As long as you take note of them and respect them you are safe.

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 9:

Assistance

At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty-bound to assist.

On-piste, we are all friends and members of the ski family. If a family member falls we help. This means that we ask them how they are. Grab their skis and bring them back if they got lost. Secure the place if they cannot get up and in worst cases, apply first aid.

How to behave on-piste | FIS rule No. 10:

Identification

Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident.

This is very important, even if many times you won't need to trace back all members, some accidents require clearance.

FIS rules: Conclusion

That's it. These are all the rules there are. Easy, right? If you understood those rules then there is nothing to stop you from enjoying your best ski holidays. And if you obey them you will prevent yourself and your fellow skiers from being involved in unnecessary accidents that would ruin your winter holidays.

Free PDF for how to behave on-piste:

How to behave on-piste | FIS rules

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