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4 Dec, 2012

Ski Instructors: Know the rules of the piste

two skiers on the slopes

Ski instructors need to be technically proficient and good at imparting their knowledge to others. But just as important as teaching people to ski well, they also need to teach beginners how to ski safely.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has a ten-point set of rules governing good skiing etiquette that instructors should adhere to.

Respect for others

The first point covers the encompasses all the rest, with the FIS saying that "a skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he does not endanger or prejudice others".

Control of speed and skiing or snowboarding

"A skier or snowboarder must move in control," states FIS, explaining that the skier must adapt their speed to match their ability, the terrain and the prevailing snow and weather conditions. It's also important to ski with regard to how busy the slopes are. This point is particularly relevant to instructors, who need to make sure their clients can control their speed.

Choice of route

Basically, the person coming from behind is liable and needs to choose their route to avoid people in front of them. Even if someone carves out a really wide turn that you weren't expecting, it could still be your fault.


Moving on from the last point, FIS says a skier can overtake 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".

Entering, starting and moving upwards

Just like driving a car, check up and down the piste if you're entering from the side.

Stopping on the piste

"Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the piste in narrow places or where visibility is restricted," says FIS. Of course, a fall is viewed differently. However, after a fall in such a place, the skier must move clear of the piste as soon as possible.

Climbing and descending on foot

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

Respect for signs and markings

Skiers must respect and obey "all signs and markings". Of course, what you will see other skiers doing depends on where you are. This kind of rule is generally obeyed more fully in Canada than in France, for example.


At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is "duty bound" to assist. That means instructors, too, even if you have a class in tow.


"Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident," says FIS in the final of its ten rules of the mountain.

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