Staying Safe

Staying Safe

Over the years we have noticed the following:

  • Younger instructors get hurt more early in the season
  • Older instructors get hurt more at the end of the season
  • Men aged 18 to 25 get hurt more than others

Most Common Injuries:

  • Injuries from collisions (i.e. Concussion)
  • Repetitive Strain (twisting back, knees)
  • Catching an Edge
  • Slips and Falls
  • Frostbite
  • ACL

Repetitive Strain:

Instructors helping students:

  • Help students get up only if they are smaller than you and you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Avoid twisting your back when you help.
  • Be sure to teach them how to get up on their own.

Support staff who load / unload goods:

  • Ask for help with heavier items.
  • Use the dolly when you can.
  • Avoid twisting actions.
  • Be careful when lifting things to higher shelves.
  • It’s easier to push than to pull.


  • Scope out jumps beforehand.
  • Choose landings with enough slope.
  • Stay within your ability (in spite of peer pressure).
  • Inverted aerials are never permitted in uniform.
  • Know the spill zone (if you crash, where do you end up?).
  • In-run length changes based on snow condition; never assume that it’s the same as the last time.
  • Injury Prevention for Instructors:
  • Fitness should be a habit, not something just for ski season. Staying in shape is a lot easier than training for shape.
  • Warm up before you ride, as well as your first few runs. Include light exercises.
  • Know your limitations. Peer pressure induces poor judgment.
  • Early season powder days are deceptive; remember that there’s nothing under all that fluff but rock!
  • When Spring riding, watch for rocks protruding.

Almost all gym facilities in Whistler offer drop-in fees and / or monthly memberships. It is strongly recommended that staff who are not training at home for fitness and flexibility use a gym at least twice a week. Check out Club Shred for some great fitness deals.

Flexibility should be a big component of your season long fitness program. Flexibility improves performance and shortens recovery time.

Catching and Edge, this happens to us more than it should:

  • Watch out for small rocks or twigs protruding through snow.
  • Shoulder check for traffic or for counting your students only after looking at the snow condition ahead.
  • On easy runs with slower speeds, skiers should get into a wedge before looking over their shoulder.
  • Good eyewear will help you identify changing snow conditions; some lenses are better suited to particular light.
  • Keep equipment well tuned.

Your Knees:

Skiers must be especially aware of the ACL

  • Most ACL injuries happen when the skier is trying to regain balance from an awkward position. Sometimes falling is the best option!
  • Most ACL injuries happen when the hips are below the knees.
  • Jumping: Landing on your tails is bad news for your ACL.
  • Make sure your bindings are working properly.
  • If you are sliding, avoid burying your edge in the snow with bent knees. Either wait it out and slide to a stop, or, if this is unsafe, apply the edges gently with straighter legs.
  • If you go down... STAY DOWN! Trying to get up while in motion is most dangerous for the ACL.

Slips and Falls:

Just walking around in the winter can be hazardous, especially when you are lugging gear.

  • Be aware of ice buildup around locker room exits, meeting areas, and restaurants.
  • Watch for uneven surfaces; walk around side hills when slippery.
  • Consider using “cat tracks” on ski boots.
  • Inform the building supervisor when an area needs salt / sand.


Though Whistler is not known to be a cold climate, there are cold snaps every season that can catch you off guard.

  • Watch for “white spots” on your clients’ noses, cheeks, and ear lobes. Ask them to do the same for you.
  • Use fleece (not cotton) neck warmers
  • Vaseline or Dermatone can be used on a daily basis to protect your skin from wind and cold.
  • If you are cold, your client probably is too! Recommend a bathroom or hot chocolate break.
  • Dress appropriately and make sure your client is too!
  • Keep spare hand warmers in your uniform for you and/or your clients.
  • If you have poor circulation to your feet, try investing in boot heaters.
  • Make sure to wear dry, clean socks everyday.
  • Take your boot liner out to dry each night if you don’t have a boot dryer in your locker.
  • Frostbite may not be covered by WCB if it is a pre-existing condition (you have had it before) or if you had the opportunity to warm up but did not take it.

Sun Safety:

Most of our staff are exposed to the sun for much of the day. Precautions are necessary to avoid both short and long term suffering.

  • Wear sunscreen (even on cloudy days).
  • Reapply after lunch.
  • Drink water. Sun, altitude, and exercise will dehydrate you very quickly.
  • For Spring skiing, cover up. Being a touch too warm is better than being burnt. If you aren’t wearing a helmet on a day off, try wearing a hat that gives your ears protection.
  • Not all lenses are created equal. Often you get what you pay for when it comes to eye protection.

Sun safety should be a concern for all our guests.

  • They may not be aware of the increased UV strength at altitude or the mirror effect of snow.
  • Use safety as an opportunity to both educate and care for our guests.
  • This is especially important with the little ones, who will be more prone to cancer later in life if they damage their skin now.

Mountain Emergencies

  • Avalanches: notify the ski patrol if you witness or hear of an avalanche.
  • Lift evacuations: should you be needed to help with a lift evacuation you will be contacted by your supervisor who will direct you to a station where you can be of assistance.
  • Avalanche control duds: if you encounter one, mark its location, then call 604-935-5555. DO NOT TOUCH! Duds may be unstable and potential inflict severe injuries or death.

If a guest reports one of the above emergency situations, ask that person to stay so that Patrol can talk to them directly. Major emergencies such as avalanche rescue or chair lift evacuation may require your immediate assistance even at the expense of postponing your class to a later time. Please keep this in mind to respond immediately to such emergencies.

The hazards in a big mountain environment require constant vigilance. Tree wells, cornices, flat light and deep powder are just some of the dangers that can compromise our safety and that of our guests. If you aren’t familiar with the area, don’t take your guests there!