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Do you teach how to fall?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
For you instructors out there, especially those who teach beginners, do you teach peoople how to fall? Last week in Tahoe I saw a girl sliding down the hill by sitting on her ski tails. She fell back and not to the side. As a result the skis acclerated and she couldn't do anything. Fortunately she reached a point where the hill flattened out and she came to a stop. Another girl the next day wasn't so lucky. She was also in a similar runaway and continued to accelerate till she hit a lip, then started a tumble and crashed into a tree. They had to intubate her on the hill and helicopter her to Reno. They were surprised she made it to the hospital alive. I don't know how she ended up.

Is falling part of the beginner curriculum? It also heps in preventing those ACL injuries.
post #2 of 18
Back when I was guiding, I taught people how to stop if they *did* fall. It's an important skill to have and it's kind of a shame more people don't know how to do a simple self-arrest using their ski poles.

post #3 of 18
drop, roll, and stop, (kinda like whn your on fire, except you stop first then.)

post #4 of 18
Falling is a very important part of skiing i think. It is something that you have to get good at, accusomed to, and not be afraid of. Even if you rarely fall, you still have to know when and how to do it. Fighting a fall or panicing during a fall is always the worst possible things you can do. If im falling i usually let myself fall in whatever direction im already falling in, and once i hit the snow and im sliding i try to swing my feet so my skis/feet are sideways and downhill of me. It is much easier to regroup from this position and doesnt result in injury very often, as long as you dont hit anything in the process. The most important thing to do is not to panic when youre in a highspeed crash and sliding down the hill out of control. You just have to wait until its over and stand up. A good example of what happens when you fight a fall happened to a girl on my team last season. She was in a GS race and was on the headwall, got late, and in the back seat, and of course started to go down, but she fought it to try to stay up (instead of letting herself fall to once side to prevent injury) and ended up breaking her tibia right at her knee in three places. This was a girl who did not fall - ever, and had no clue how to do it or what to do when the time came. She paniced and tried to stay on her feet.
post #5 of 18
Though not a part of the "official curriculum", I still teach a bit of it.

A controled fall is much better than just "crash and burn".

Sit down, rear end up the hill and the skis can either break speed on the snow or absorb impact (knees bent).
post #6 of 18
When I have a student(generally a beginner,on mild green slope) who ASKS me about it I say "put the softest part of your rear end on the snow first, outside either side of your skis, (similar to a para-trooper hitting the ground) and keep your hands and elbows out of the way".This HELPS avoid thumb injuries and dis-locating shoulders.
Highspeed crashes,or steeper slopes are often so different there are more variables to deal with.
post #7 of 18
How to fall was the very first thing I was ever taught, and the second was how to get back up.

I'll teach that same way with first timers till my dying day. It could save someone's life, or at the very least their knee.
post #8 of 18
Originally posted by SnoWonder:
Another girl the next day wasn't so lucky. She was also in a similar runaway and continued to accelerate till she hit a lip, then started a tumble and crashed into a tree. They had to intubate her on the hill and helicopter her to Reno. They were surprised she made it to the hospital alive. I don't know how she ended up.


Is this the same girl you saw>

Very sad.

post #9 of 18
Last season, a kid died at Whitetail (PA) on a novice run in a slight variant of the above scenario. From what I heard, it sounded like he was too afraid to sit down, picked up speed till he lost control, then hit the tree.

Knowing how to do a controlled, intentional fall is good for many reasons.

Tom / PM
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yes this was the accident I talked about. I am deeply saddened by this. It's a terrible way for the family to spend Thanksgiving. I also have a 13 year old step-daughter that we had skiing with us last week at Alpine Meadows. We had to chastise her for not wearing her helmet after a friend made up her hair. Yes we wear our helmets as well. Obviously the helmet didn't help this girl. It doesn't protect the neck. Nevertheless, I'm still wearing my helmet.
post #11 of 18
It's horrible.
post #12 of 18
Thinking about this makes me sad and ill.

I have seen kids fly past me and go off into the trees but miss them thankfully.

I am amazed at how many people will just fly past someone who wiped out and not ask if they are OK.

I took a nasty spill last year on an easy black run and hit a groomer ridge that was ice. It yanked off my right ski so I had no choice but to fall. My other ski caught the snow, jacked my leg and knee right into my jaw, and I slip to a stop.

One ski was pretty far up the hill and two guys just come skiing by without grabbing my ski or even just asking how I was.

Even some guy on the damn lift asked if I was OK.

I always grab peoples gear to first of all get it off the snow and secondly to give it back to them. Plus I always want to ask if they are OK.

The first day I learned how to ski I was at Mount Sunapee on their beginner hill. My instructor was assuring me that people above me would avoid me so I wouldn't have to pay attention uphill and to concentrate on what was below me.

A minute later a girl who obviously had never skied in her life came flying past us with no control and wiped out.

My instructor went right over and told her to go to the bottom and take off her skis for day.

It's a fact of skiing that people die but it still sucks and reminds us that it's fun but dangerous.
post #13 of 18

I teach all my first timers that are 3 ways to stop. #1 is fall - it always works for beginners. Teaching people how to fall could be viewed as a liability issue. If someone does fall and gets hurt, then there is reasonable grounds for a lawsuit. At least from a lawyer's perspective. I advise my students to fall to the side as opposed to sitting down, to force themselves down versus waiting to be taken down and to relax instead of fighting to stay up.

There's a wonderful tape from Vermont Ski Safety that shows 7 contributing factors for ACL injuries. This is wonderful background material for anyone who wants to teach how to fall.
post #14 of 18
Didn't get taught to fall for skiing - but the rollerblade instructors teach it for first lesson - you practice until you are GOOD!
post #15 of 18
beginners all get the same drill from me - lay on the snow (no poles) on your stomach and learn to spread your skis and get to your knees and then use your hands to walk your way up to standing. (hard for folks who are not flexible) and then I tell them to plop back down on the snow (I go first) and lay there making them "fall" down with me and we try getting up sideways with poles. they stand up and I make them fall down again - ESPECIALLY when it's adults. I joke that falling is the one thing they will get good at FAST.

I have been known to make all sorts of groups "fall" - I do this especially when I can see the defensive skiing postive that stems from "I'm afraid to fall". GEE I KNOW HOW TO FIX THAT .... mmmmuuuuuuuuwwwwaaaaaaahhhhhhhaaaaaa!!!

IMHO - the girl who died - and all of the folks getting injured on the novice slopes... they don't take lessons. Friends bring them and stick them on skis or people just assume they will figure it out for themselves. Caveat Emptor!

post #16 of 18
I cover how to fall in every lesson I teach, falling is a part of skiing and their are good ways to fall and bad. The film Vermont Ski Safety that therusty mentions is excellent, all instructors at my area are required to watch it as part of their training. So ofter skiers equate falling with failing part of my goal is to move them past that. Falling is not failing but part of the learning process we all go through.
post #17 of 18
Falling when skiing is NOT like driving your car into a tree. It's part of the game. Go with it - don't fight it!
post #18 of 18
Even the top guys fall , look at Warren Millers films . I have heard criticisms of him saying he doesn't make the pro's look so good sometimes by showing falls . I think it makes them look a bit more human . I reckon if you don't fall sometimes you are not pushing your limits enough or not trying new things .
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