When you’re in the lift line, you likely have skiers bump into your snowboard or run over the tail of it with their freshly waxed, razor-edged skis, many times without being aware of it or without apologizing. This often results in your expensive board getting scuffed.
You’re probably wondering why this happens and why skiers don’t just stand back slightly to avoid these collisions. They won’t lose anything since each rider has a fixed place in line.
Sometimes you may have a kid who keeps bumping you from behind, or a grown-up nudging you ahead by slipping the front of their skis under the back of your board. Sometimes it might be a snowboarder sliding into your tail.
As you start buying nicer and pricier snowboards, this behavior becomes even more of a concern, and you just wish others would give you more space.
Why do skiers run over your board in lift lines so often? Do snowboarders do it too? How should you react when that happens?
See also: Can snowboarders keep up with skiers?
Why do skiers keep running their skis over your snowboard
Skis are long!
Skiers often don’t realize how far forward their ski tips are. Skis extend an extra 2-3 feet in front of them – longer than the personal space people get in line. Skiers aren’t typically looking down constantly, so they often run over the ski or snowboard in front of them.
Sloped or uneven ground
A common cause for skiers running into (or over) your board is when the lift line is slightly sloped. Less experienced or coordinated skiers are often unable to control themselves in a sloped lift line. Skiers generally can’t snowplow to control their sliding with so many people boxing them.
Tight space for skis
Getting around turns in the line on skis can also be tricky, especially if the turns are tight, the line is very crowded, or the ground isn’t level.
Even on flat ground, skiers will shuffle their skis to move forward in line, often hitting surrounding skis or snowboards in the process. Once a skier gives herself a push, slowing down quickly is challenging as there’s generally not enough room to engage an edge.
The problem with ski poles
Snowboarders think skiers should use their ski poles in front of themselves to keep themselves from sliding and avoid hitting others. In tight lines, however, it can be hard for a skier to find a spot to plant their poles.
Also, if the ground is icy, the skier may fail to plant the pole and fall, crashing into other people next to him/her in the process.
Some skiers simply don’t know how to control themselves with their poles. Some use them to skate forward but let the poles stab people behind them. Some skiers will also stab your brand-new snowboard and put a scuff or dent in it.
Skiers vs snowboarders in line
In general, a skier is more likely than a snowboarder to drift in the line on an icy spot, especially if there’s not enough space to engage edges. In contrast, snowboarders have the ability to put an unstrapped foot down to stop themselves or move forward in the line.
Snowboards are generally shorter than skis, so skiers are generally the ones doing most of the touching in line. Wider snowboards are more likely to get touched.
Note that skiers also often complain about other skiers constantly running over the back of their skis while in line.
What to do if a skier keeps bumping into your snowboard
Here are common reactions snowboarders have when someone keeps bumping into their board or runs their skis over their tail:
- If it happens just once, just let it go (even though you might get a slight scratch on your snowboard). The second time, make eye contact. The third time, politely ask the skier to stop bumping and give you space. After this, most people back off and apologize.
- If a skier keeps nudging you with the tip of their skis even after you asked them to stop, lift one edge of your board, and once the ski tip gets under it, push your board down on top of it to trap the ski.
- Stomp (“slap”) your board like for getting snow off. Doing so generally keeps some people back.
- A more aggressive approach with a nudger who won’t stop is to let them get ahead of you in the line, then pretend you’re stumbling and hit their binding release.
Snowboards bumping into skis
As mentioned earlier, snowboards are generally shorter than skis. Also, a snowboard’s front binding (the one that generally stays strapped in line) is closer to the board nose than a ski binding. As a result, your board tip is closer to you, which results in easier spacing when in line.
Nevertheless, we snowboarders also regularly bump into others in line, and often have our board (or unstrapped foot) run over other boards and skis. The result of having so many strapped planks of all sizes stuffed into a tight crowded space.
While skiers in line may bump into snowboarders more than the other way around, the chairlift is where we snowboarders shine. On the chair, skis face straight ahead whereas snowboards are constantly off to the side when one binding is released, hitting the skis of the person next to us.
Snowboarders will even sometimes flip their board around while on the lift, whacking the skis next to them.
Lifts were designed for skiers, not snowboarders. Mixing them results in the straight vs angled issue, with snowboards bumping into skis.
People often feel that snowboarders are more likely to apologize when hitting you compared to skiers who tend not to apologize.
That said, among snowboarders, park riders have the worst attitude when asked to stop banging other boards. They don’t care about their own snowboard getting scratched up, and don’t care much for other people’s gear either.
Lift line etiquette
Here are a few written and unwritten etiquette rules snowboarders and skiers should follow when in the lift line to keep everything nice and pleasant.
- Don’t jump the queue (obvious one)
- Merge in alternate lines politely without pushing
- Pay attention in line, move when it’s your turn not to slow down everyone
- Keep your snowboard and foot off other people’s boards or skis. Don’t shove
- For skiers, watch your poles behind you
- Don’t block the line waiting for your friends
- When you get to the front of the line, take the first available seat on a chair vs waiting for your friend. You and your friends may not be on consecutive chairs
- If you’re alone, ask if you can squeeze in or wait for the next chair
- Do not smoke in lift lines or on the lift
- Watch your language, especially around kids
- At the top, move away from the chair unloading area
- Listen to the liftie’s instructions to wait or go
See also: The snowboarding community
There are a lot of oblivious riders out there, both skiers and snowboarders, including in lift lines. Like in driving, many people just don’t pay attention to others or care.
That said, we snowboarders don’t always realize that skiers have a harder time than we think controlling their skis in the lift line. A little patience from us may be in order when possible.
Snowboarders generally mix well together in the lift line and on the chair, and so do skiers. Mixing snowboarders and skiers becomes a big mess of gear. In an ideal world, skiers and snowboarders should have separate lift lines.
When in the line, try to remember that most people don’t mean to be rude to you, it’s just a chaotic situation that they may not handle that well in terms of gear and space. At the end of the day, all we all want is to get on the lift!
Cover photo: “This really tells the whole story.” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Mulling it Over
(2) “Lift line” (CC BY 2.0) by Kyle T.