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Results of the polls on frequency of falling

post #1 of 37
PhysicsMan - some quick thoughts - I'll have to cogitate on this later when I have time (just doing my quick breakfast epicski check-in).

This seems to beg the question about types of falls (i.e., when they occur) as relates to some of the demographics. Also, cross-correlation in self-reported data is not all that uncommon. I've found that self-reported data tends to skew towards the high end of scales when it comes to notions of ability/skill/expertise and toward the "non-negative" when it comes to issues such as appearance. That being said, given the expected skew within this forum, your results are not unexpected!

I'll post later with some specific questions (if I come up with any)!

Interesting, nevertheless. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #2 of 37
Also, in addition: I ski with a pretty seasoned bunch of skiers who aren't phased by any conditions that would cause a fall from less experienced skiers and they can go through several seasons without a selfinduced fall.

Non-selfinduced falls are collisions like the one I had last time I fell two years ago in Copper when a snowboarder hit me from behind and knocked me unconcious, or various equipment failures.

Since then my wife and I have skied about 150 days in the Rockies, in Lech and St. Anton in Austria and many other places without a fall.

I believe that skiers with 30-50 years experience who spend all winter on the snow and are not involved in racing or other skiing activities where they must push themselves near or over their abilities need not fall because of technical mistakes, which occur seldom but when they occur can be rectified before a fall, and they have acquired enough experience and judgement and especially correct assesment of their skills and abilities not to put themselves into peril.

Matching up skiing ability with terrain and condition is the secret of enjoyable skiing. I marvel at the folks who challenge themselves on terrain or in conditions they have not learned to handle and take a chance of hurting themselves with every fall.

You learn by NOT falling, falling only teaches you to not to do THIS again :

In my long experience I see skiers who challenge themselves on terrain over their heads and have a yardsale at a perticular point to become very apprehensive everytime they approach that point, tighten up and fall again.

Enough preaching... ...Ott
post #3 of 37
Thread Starter 
>...This seems to beg the question about types of falls (i.e., when they occur) as relates to some of the demographics...

One of the frustrating things about working with the software that EpicSki provides is that it does not provide access to individual data records. What this means is that if I had wanted to get out information correlating type of fall with demographics, the only way I could see to do it within the limitations of EpicSki would be to set up at least a few more independent surveys. Such surveys would also be quite limited in scope / utility (as these two were), and likely pose an excessive burden on the volunteers who participated because you couldn't just add one or two more questions to allow it to address other issues of interest. Also, because the EpicSki software has no capabilities for validating responses, insuring that a person only responds to the survey that he/she is supposed to, etc., I consider it to be in the hobbyist category, ie, for fun, and not serious work that you would want to stand up to scrutiny.

>...Also, cross-correlation in self-reported data is not all that uncommon...

I know. In fact, because of the limitation of the EpicSki software I mentioned above about not having access to individual data records, my mention of cross-correlation among three variables did not come from analysis of this data, but simply from the definitions of these variables, eg, one could not have 30 years of skiing experience and be less than 30 years old, etc.

>...I've found that self-reported data tends to skew towards the high end of scales when it comes to notions of ability/skill/expertise and toward the "non-negative" when it comes to issues such as appearance...

Yup, but I still had to chuckle when I saw that hardly anybody "is short" in this universe.

>...That being said, given the expected skew within this forum, your results are not unexpected!

I agree. It would have been a lot more fun to discuss if some really unexpected relationship had emerged from the data, but so it goes. I suspect that about the only semi-controversial issue that might arise is that it appears that some good skiers who have made statements along the lines of "falling is pushing the envelope and helps learning" were statistically overwhelmed by other good skiers who simply don't fall or don't like to fall.

Tom / PM
post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 
Ott - I couldn't agree more, and it looks like most people that participated in this survey agree as well. Its very clear that for whatever reason(s), older, more experienced, better skiers fall less.

Of course, the "peanut gallery" will undoubtedly say that this group isn't "pushing the envelope" anymore. Because of the limitations I mentioned in my response to JCK, there is nothing in my survey that specifically addresses this comment. Anyone that is interested can have a shot at it setting up their own poll on this issue.

One approach would be to try to estimate the rate of falling during "normal" skiing (ie, not racing, not in the park, etc.) amongst younger good skiers and specifically compare that to the rate for older good skiers during "normal" skiing.

Unfortunately, there are problems with a direct approach like this. The first is that the sample size will likely be small - my guess is that the fraction of people on Epic that participate in these activities is small. The second potential problem is that respondents who race or participate in park acrobatics would have to subtract out the falls occurring during these activities from their total number of falls to obtain how many times they fall during normal skiing. Since this essentially involves mentally subtracting two large numbers, and I'm worried that such a guesstimate could easily be biased and of poor precision. This is why I didn't attempt to investigate this point in my previous survey, and am not about to volunteer to set up a new one.

BTW, in the interests of full disclosure, I'm in the category: 55 y.o. / 30+ years of skiing experience. About the only time this season I even came close to falling was once, when without thinking, I decided to do a hockey stop (purely for show-off purposes at the base area), forgot I was on shorties, had hardly any ski in back of the bindings, and momentarily got too far back. I recovered immediately, but unfortunately, my kid saw it, and now won't let me forget this 1 second of bobbling amongst hours and hours of uneventful skiing. [img]redface.gif[/img]

Tom / PM

[ April 21, 2003, 10:35 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 

Results of the polls on frequency of falling

By late Sunday night, 100 people had responded to the "Frequent faller" and "Infrequent faller" polls and new responses were tapering off, so I decided to analyze the results.

This first set of tables shows the combined demographic data for the participants in both surveys:

Over 30....24%






================================================== ========

This next set of tables show the breakdown of responses into the two categories. Raw counts for the "Frequent faller" and "Infrequent faller" categories follow the category description on each line.

At the end of each section is the result of a standard 2xN contingency table chi-squared analysis. This tells how likely each categorization may be related to fall frequency. This statistical method is very general, is considered non-parametric, and makes only the most minimal assumptions about the data. As usual, if any particular category did not have at least 4 or 5 responses, that category was merged with the next category.

Over 30...4....20
Probability of being related to frequency of falls: 99.25%

Probability of being related to frequency of falls: 99.7%

Probability of being related to frequency of falls: 94%

Not statistically related to frequency of falls.

Not statistically related to frequency of falls.

Not statistically related to frequency of falls.

================================================== ========

The first thing that strikes me about the data for this survey is the age, skiing experience and ability level of the participants, and hence, probably of EpicSki itself. This is one *very* seasoned bunch of skiers that participate on this forum. OTOH, the low representation of women skiers will unfortunately probably not be a surprise to anyone.

I find the height demographics a bit amusing - I naively expected that without any explicit definitions of short, medium and tall, people would probably assign themselves into these categories so that there would be roughly equal numbers in each category. In actuality, very few people seem to want to call themselves "short". [img]smile.gif[/img] (Matteo - I owe you one. [img]redface.gif[/img] )

From the data, it appears that the number of years skiing, age, and skiing ability are all strongly related to the frequency of falling, but gender, height, and weight are not.

One of the reasons that I started this survey is that I hardly ever see older skiers falling, and have heard numerous comments from older skiers that don't like to fall. I thought it would be interesting to see if my anecdotal observations would be substantiated by the data. Unfortuntely, there is also a confounding effect to the age variable: Almost everyone in the world would probably expect that more experienced skiers would fall less frequently than less experienced skiers.

Since the number of years skiing, age, and skiing ability are all strongly correlated variables, if one of these variables is strongly related to frequency of falling, the other two will also be related. If there were a sufficiently large body of data, it might be possible to tease out the separate effects of these three variables, but unfortunately, the current data set is not large enough to do this. The only hint in this direction is that the probability of being statistically related to falls is indeed highest for age (99.7%). Next comes years of skiing experience (99.25%), and least probably related is skiing ability (94%).


Tom / PM

[ April 21, 2003, 12:16 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #6 of 37
JCK and Physicsman--

Thanks for the very thoughtful back and forth on this poll, limitations of the format, etc. I have been struggling to put up a poll to use for planning next year's Academy and the conversation between the two of you was very illuminating.

More, perhaps, as reflective on the limitations of the exercise than instructive on how to approach it. And both of you are obviously more sophisticated in terms of the manipulation and utilization of statistical data than I am. I'm just trying for something a tad better than annecdotal.

I wouldn't be too critical of the limitations of the format. It's all we have.

One other point, to Ott's observation about pushing yourself in terrain you can't handle, with a bad result. He's right, of course. I cracked a couple of ribs at the end of last year and have avoided that spot all season. Went back to it very suspiciously a couple of weeks ago. Survived the passage (repeatedly). But an instructor skilled in motion analysis would probably be asking him/herself, "why does that guy ski past there looking like a dog sniffing an electric fence he had a bad experience with?"
post #7 of 37
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by sno'more:
JCK and Physicsman--Thanks for the very thoughtful back and forth on this poll, limitations of the format, etc. I have been struggling to put up a poll to use for planning next year's Academy and the conversation between the two of you was very illuminating...
I would be quite happy to lend a hand, ear, whatever you need...

Send me regular email (you have my adr) if you would like to chat about this.

Tom / PM

PS - I sure hope I didn't come across as complaining about the EpicSki do-it-yourself polling software feature. I find it to be an utter hoot, especially when compared to the complete absence of such capabilities on other forums, other parts of the web, etc.. I just wanted to explain why my survey and subsequent analysis were missing some of the things that normally would be almost trivial to do on real survey software.
post #8 of 37
Interesting, but no surprises!
Maybe you should redesign teh next poll:
Yardsales vs Gradual subsidance onto Bum type falls.
And then correleate THAT with age and experience.

Only there'd be no surprises there, either!
post #9 of 37
Or how about how about finding out how aggresive everyone skis? The chatter suggests a lot of people skiing at the edge of their comfort zone, but I bet the average recreational skier is more than happy deep within the comfort of their zone with no real ambitions to push the envelope at all. Would be interesting to see how the members of this forum distribute themselves.

I won't do it myself -- not having set one up before I am sure my choices would be "flawed" in some way...
post #10 of 37
Interesting little exercise Tom. As has been said the results are rather expected, but 2 things do stand out for me.

3 out of 5 true experts define themselves as frequent fallers. Of course it's a small # of respondents but I would have expected perhaps 3 out of 100 to see themselves as frequent fallers in this category. Must be a lot of tip hooking and/or cliff dumping going on with these 3. Even then I would be surprised, the quys I consider experts just hardly ever fall, even when race training.

The height to fall frequency correlation was a statistic I found interesting, and one I had not really thought much about before. And the number of participants here are large enough to suggest some potential for significance. Here are the percentages:

30% of short people are frequent fallers
41% of medium people are frequent fallers
50% of tall people are frequent fallers

As these numbers are an across the board representation of age and ability categories they should carry some significance. Does height perhaps have a definite influence on our ability to maintain balance while skiing? Does the tall skiers raised center of mass give him/her an inherent disadvantage in this sport? Could this be the SUV role over syndrome of skiing? These statistics would tend to support such an opinion.

Maybe Tom you have come up with the industries new slogan:
post #11 of 37
Thread Starter 
Ant - I like your idea, but like you, I think there would be no surprises there, either. BTW, you are partly to blame for this poll (actually, you, Ott, and some other people) because in an earlier post you commented about how you (representing a slightly older segment of the skiing community) don't like to fall. I felt you were absolutely right, but had no data to back it up. Now, you do.

gForce - I like your idea for the poll about comfort zones as well. I'm going into a big work push for the next couple of weeks, so maybe after that I'll have a bit of time and give it a shot (if nobody beats me to it).

FastMan -

a) Yup, I'm equally surprised about the 3 "true experts" in the frequent faller category. There are a number of possible explanations. One could be that I was not precise enough in specifying what type of falls I wanted included, and these 3 included falls in the park (which while not quite intentional, certainly are expected when one practices new moves). Another possibility is that while superb in one aspect of skiing, these three may have incorrectly put themselves into the category of "top few percent in the world" (ie, in all aspects of skiing). This was not meant as a personal dig, just a reflection of an everpresent worry with self-assignment (with no means to validate the data) in surveys.

b) The height to fall frequency data was interesting and I had noted that myself. In fact, there is a similar (but opposite) trend in the weight to fall frequency data:

Weight / frequents / infrequents / row total / fraction

I agree with you and think both trends are interesting to contemplate. Unfortunately, the chi-squared test did not give the official stamp of "statistical significance" to these trends.

You can see why: Obviously, there could easily be an error of plus or minus one or even two counts in each line. So, suppose each line was off by one and the wt data was:


The percentages are then essentially flat and don't show the trend you observed. This is why chi-squared didn't ok this correlation.

Now, the fun situation to contemplate would be if both wt and height turned out to be statistically significant. In that case we could then prove that skiing (at least as represented on Epic) is the sport for old, timid, short, fat men, and everybody but the Powder Maggots would be on our case. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

Tom / PM
post #12 of 37
I haven't read all these post yet but from I have read here is my comment.

I have skied 76 days this season, I'm 48 y/o agressive skier level 9. I have the benefit of knowing a few insturctors who continue to give me tips on how to ski even better, I'm constently pushing myself to improve even more. Hence pushing the envelope. My last good (GREAT) fall was last weekend while blasting through the afternoon crud about 30 mph. I hooked the up hill ski when I began to slow down because I knew the trail was about to intersect another trail. When I lost consentration on what I was doing to scan the intersection about 100 feet away that is when the snow snake grabbed my up hill ski. When I stopped tumbling, I've gotten good at that, I popped up ran up hill about 30 feet to get my first ski while this nice womwn was bringing my other ski down from about 50 feet higher up the hill.

Earlier that morning I had practiced this type fall but saved myself because the snow was firmer. While our J3 State Champion was following me down to this hard right fall away turn to this flat traverse, I wanted to carry speed, I hooked the inside edge, picked that foot up, began to make the turn on the right turn on the left ski, put the right ski down on top of the left ski, felt and saw what I had done, picked the right ski up off of the left ski continued to turn down the drop and put the right ski back on the snow. All while triing to not loose speed.

This one turn has taken me down twice this season. But I'm still ahead, I won't let it win.
post #13 of 37
Bode Miller and Hermann would probably put themselves in the "frequent faller" category. Of course they're constantly pushing themselves but most of the skiers in their category are. I think people make too big a deal about falling especially instructors. I've never bought into the "buy a beer if you fall" attitude that prevails when skiing with a group of instructors. It's ridiculous and stupid and just leads to more tight ass skiing. Who cares if you fall? Ice skaters fall all the time doing exactly the same moves they practice contantly on a perfectly flat surface.

What's amazing about skiing is how often you can fall and not get hurt! It's pretty crazy in fact to think you're going 20-30+ mph and suddenly start violently tumbling and you're o.k.! I've walked away from some pretty spectacular wipeouts with nothing but a few scratches and bruises. Rollerblading or mountain biking doesn't offer as much leeway.

The day we skied at Alta with the Bears I was amazed at some of the things people attempted. Bob and I were coming down a pretty tough run (all I know is we had to hike up and then gee surprise-traverse- for a while) and there was a woman skiing down the trail who never should have been on it. She was blowing up left and right. Bob took it upon himself to lead her down and she really was having a rough time. I figured she'd be miserable but she always got up smiling saying "this is great!". What a great attitude! Of course she'd be better off on an easier trail where she could get better...

Well, here's to a good wipeout!
post #14 of 37
So if I fall, does that mean that I suck? What constitutes a fall, is it a release, or just a casual hip-check?

One of the things that I like most about skiing is my ability to challenge myself, on my grounds. I choose the lines, the approach and the speeds that I enter terrain at. I push myself onto new and difficult terrain all season long, which has opened up whole new parts of the mountain to me. I fall a lot. Rarely do I have a total yard sale type wipe out, but I do crash. Last big fall I had was down the Cirque at Snowbird, skis everywhere. I would have considered that normal skiing, not really pushing myself, but I caught a tip and went down hard. However, when I am really pushing myself, my falls are much smaller, and tend to be almost caluclated. I know when they are coming and I am ready. Learning why/when one falls helps to set up for the next crash, and therefore helps minimize injury. So in challenging terrain, I may crash the first 5 attempts at it, but on the sixth, I may nail it. I learned something.

So I ask, why is falling considered such a bad thing?
post #15 of 37
Alta, and all

These are facts!!

Falls are not bad.

Getting hurt, or hurting someone else because of a fall IS not good.

Fear of falling is not good.

Fear of "beer fines" is a significant factor in the likelyhood of ACL damage.

Falls by experienced skiers, skiing in a controled manner in predictable conditions, are infrequent.

Falls while exploring extremly variable (exciting) terrain, or new techniques, tactics or methods, are to be expected.

I don't mind when I fall.

If I quit skiing early in the day because I fell once, and am not willing to fall again, It is my decision.

The lack of acceptance on the part of another does not constitute misjudgement on my part.

post #16 of 37
So I ask, why is falling considered such a bad thing?
You mean here?

Lotsa kooks
Lotsa kooky instructors
Lotsa folks who refuse to ski bump runs
Lotsa East Coast folks

Lotsa overlap
post #17 of 37
Good Lord. If you don't fall, what in the world do you talk about in the bar after skiing? Crashes make for the best war stories.

I can still vividly picture some of my spectacular crashes from twenty years ago or more. Meanwhile, all the great powder turns I had this just this year tend to sort of blur together by the time the snow goes away, but the *falls*... those stay with me.

All I can say to those of you who don't ever fall is that you're missing out on some great memories years from now.

post #18 of 37
Ya! Bob!

Besides the fact that falling is great exercise for the heart,
I never smile so hard as when I am picking myself up from one of those, otherwise forgotten, deep powder turns gone bad!

post #19 of 37
Originally posted by AltaSkier:
So if I fall, does that mean that I suck? What constitutes a fall, is it a release, or just a casual hip-check?

So I ask, why is falling considered such a bad thing?
I think that falling can even be cool. :

Once at the end of the season I catched a stone under the snow , just below a chair . I fell, did a complete turn on my back and head and landed on my skis again and kept going on as if nothing has happened. My neck hurt for 2 days , but the people in the chair cheered and applauded! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

[ April 23, 2003, 12:59 PM: Message edited by: extreme veteran ]
post #20 of 37
No-no-no-no-no! You people that think falling is okay have it all wrong. FALLING IS DISGRACEFUL! It means you're allowing yourself to lose some form of control of the situation with the possibility of (((failure))). E-gaads, this is just totally unacceptable!!

To truely enjoy life, you must always remain in complete control of every situation. You must know that the girls you ask out will always say yes; and the one you ask to marry will swoon at your feet; the job that you apply to will always be gotten; the people you deem friends will never let you down; the kids you raise will come out _perfect_; ................... and when swooshing down a hill, you'll never have to worry about the embarassment of a fall.

...some people on this forum need some serious psychoanalysis :
post #21 of 37
Now I get it! You guys put such emphasis on falling because you LIKE falling! That has to be it, right?
If I'm pushing myself, I've got every nurone, braincell, muscle and nerve pumping at 100%. I ain't going ot fall in that situation. If I do, I'm doing stuff I ought not be doing.
If I'm falling, it's generally because I've forgotten what I'm doing...got too comfortable.

Meanwhile, I'll stick to my guns, that falling is optional. I want those overweight, middle aged people to know that skiing is a sport for them too, it's only unsafe if they want it to be so, and that they can control how unsafe they are.
post #22 of 37
I put myself in the frequent faller category. I'm in my upper 40's with 40+ years of skiing. I CAN ski and pretty much guarantee that I am not going to fall. That would hold true on anything that I care to ski. I do not fall in no-fall zones where it counts. The reason that I fall???

Ahhh, I guess I like too. I even fall to take a rest when I am tired. Some of you probably noticed this at the ski academy/gathering. Often I will intentionally do something like crank a turn and go all the way down to boot-out and spin in the snow on my hip. What a blast. I often fall and laugh hesterically. I will also ski well past the point of exhaustion and end up falling constantly.

As a side point, I do ski well below recommended DIN setting and never experience pre-release even though I can quite easily twist and step out of the bindings while standing still. I am 210 lbs and ski with a DIN setting of 5-6. I would say in 90% of my falls, the skis are still on my feet.

I skied as a damn good windshield wiper sperm turning hack for more than 30 years. As a result, I got use to falling and got damn good at it. I suppose its just a carry over from days gone by.

I have been injured while falling and been knocked unconcious twice. I have some very good war stories about some spectacular, as well as very stupid falls. I don't fall as often as I use to but then again, I no longer ski bumps while trying to drink from a pitcher of beer.
post #23 of 37
PhysicsMan - I did not realize that you were not able to get at individual data records - though why I should have thought that you could escapes me now that I think about it. In any case, it is an interesting aspect of this forum that you can even do something of this nature. It would be interesting, if only in an intellectual way, to think about doing a full linear regression on this type of question with some refinement on types of falls against demographics (though now we're probably moving into matrix theory land). Anyway, I'd love to know when/if you're going to try something else - please PM me when you do as I'll probably not check in as often during golf season!

To everyone out there debating falling - or anything else - remember, this is all in fun! Besides, aren't typos and bad grammar just the same as letting attention wander for a second and landing your backside?
post #24 of 37

Your height and weight data support what most instructors know form experience. Short, heavier set people don't fall near as much as tall skinny ones. They instinctively know that if their CM moves too much they fall. This is apparently something that tall skinny ones hasven't sensed.

Thanks for "proving"the point.
post #25 of 37
Originally posted by Tom Burch:
Short, heavier set people don't fall near as much as tall skinny ones. They instinctively know that if their CM moves too much they fall. This is apparently something that tall skinny ones hasven't sensed.
I'm not sure if you have Weebles in the US (possibly under a different name). The little toys (sometimes pens) which had a round, weighted base, and a narrow top. No matter what you did, you couldn't push them over - they always sprung back up again. I think the strapline for the advert over here was something like "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down".
Now, I'm not suggesting that short, stocky people are like Weebles, but perhaps there is mroe to it than just the ability to sense CM movement. Perhaps if PhysicsMan or someone else were to study the stability of people, we would see a clearer picture.
A tall, skiiny person will have a higher CM than a shorter person, but will also have a more even weight distribution, and probably be top-heavy (due mainly to the head). A heavier person will have more weight nearer their CM. This will provide a stabilising effect which will help offset weight at the extremities, i.e. head and feet.

Anyone want to back up my theory?

post #26 of 37

informative, but not too surprising - the questions don't have the level of complexity that would come closer to ferreting out the causes of falls.

As I've grown older, I've noticed a few interesting things about myself and my two favorite sports, MTB riding and alpine skiing.

1) Until very recently, I was a VERY cautious athlete and did not challenge myself very often.

2) As I've learned more about myself and my abilities, I am growing increasingly more willing to try stunts and techniques that increase the likelihood of injury. This is because I now KNOW (rather than simply being familiar with) the fact that it's hard to improve significantly if you aren't trying new things. In fact, last summer I suffered two very significant injuries while riding my mtn bike, and this season skiing I found myself hurtling down steep (to me, at least ) technical bowls and chutes without concern for injury.

3) Also, as I've grown older, generally I've accumulated more first hand knowledge of the mechanisms of injury and the actions that can lead to injury. When I combine that fact with my fertile imagination and my training to foresee worst-case scenarios (thanks, law school!), I should be growing more hesitant -- but I'm not.

Another point -- I think that the type of miscue or fall tells more than the fact of falling. As my coach JW has told me, the way a skier attempts recovery from a miscue tells a lot about that skier. So, "near falls" or "recovered falls" may be a critical information field.

[ April 23, 2003, 10:26 AM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #27 of 37
I wonder if the weight distribution in ... let's say John Holmes will help balance and avoid falls even if the guy it's tall and skinny! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #28 of 37
Falls are OK only when they don't result in injuries. But many do result in injuries, so people will try to avoid them. Older people should avoid them, for obvious reasons.


For skiers in the East falling is particularly undesireable. The runs are often rock-hard and we often ski near the edge of the trail in search of softer conditions. Falling could result in hitting a tree and even at slow speeds, that would be a bad thing. So give us a break, will ya'.
post #29 of 37
Older people should avoid them, for obvious reasons.
Huh? What do you mean by older?
post #30 of 37
Tom, sorry, my writing was unclear.

I like East Coast skiers. Almost every time I ski on the East Coast, I leave with bruised hips whether I've fallen once or many, many times. I'd say if one intends to ski two or more days in a row there, it should either be fresh snow, or the falling should be limited to the last day. Or wear hockey pants.
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