We're all gapers at some point.
We're all gapers at some point. (Photo: Jason Thompson)
Gear Guy

5 Rules That Will Keep You from Being a Dork on the Ski Hill

It's not just about looking cool—these guidelines will also ensure that you'll be safe

We're all gapers at some point.

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Full disclosure: I’ve been a gaper. I’ve committed every faux pas in the book. (Just watch this video and look at how I’m wearing my helmet.) Personally, I hate that skiing has so many cultural rules about how we’re supposed to act and look, but it turns out that some of these rules have value beyond public shaming. To help you better understand ski hill etiquette, either official or unofficial, here are some basic commandments to live by.

Don’t Suffer Gaper Gap

Gaper gap is the space between the top of your goggles and the bottom of your helmet. If you have forehead showing at all, that’s gaper gap. People get teased because it looks weird, but it’s also an indication that you’re not wearing your helmet correctly. More than likely, it’s too loose and riding back on your head, which is bad news if you take a tumble. The best way to combat any gap is to buy your goggles and helmet at the same time in a ski shop. Make sure the helmet fits properly, and then make sure the goggles fit under the rim.

Carry Your Skis Correctly

You can carry your skis however you want, but here’s my suggestion: watch this video, and then start using “the local” method, where one front binding rests against your shoulder blade while you hold onto both tips with one arm. Why do I like this method over the others? Because it’s the most efficient way to haul your boards. Your arm can rest on the tips and serve as a counterweight to the back of the skis, so there’s less stress on your body. It also frees up your other hand to carry your poles or boots. Tip: Do not use this method indoors or in a crowded area—it’s easy to whack the people behind you.

Don’t Ski for Instagram. Ski for You.

If you want to commemorate your day on the mountain with some action-cam footage or a slo-mo pow slash for your Insta feed, I say go for it. Just don’t obsess over the shot. It sucks for your ski partners if they constantly have to stop instead of sending it from top to bottom. And it sucks for you if you can’t enjoy the moment because you’re worried about social media. Note: Parents get a pass on this one. Go ahead and shoot as many cute photos of your little ripper as you want.

Be Prepared (Don’t Ski in Jeans)

I recognize how elitist it sounds to expect that everyone has nice ski gear. I also get that skiing in jeans looks cool and actually works on costume day in the spring. But for the rest of the season, it’s a bad idea to shred in your Wranglers. Ski hills are frigid and wet, and cotton is your enemy in those conditions. It holds onto the moisture and makes you colder. Jeans don’t cover your ski boots, either, which means snow can pour in.

Stay in Control

Jerry is another word for gaper, and all those Jerry of the Day videos are full of wrecks because the people in them are out of control. Skiing wildly, folks, is the quickest and easiest way to get labeled a gaper. You’re endangering yourself and others. Keep the throttle at a manageable speed, and don’t pick terrain you can’t handle. Pro tip: Remember to keep your turns tight on a powder day. Don’t destroy the entire run.

Lead Photo: Jason Thompson

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