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Wimbledon Clinics

Have you got the right ski equipment?

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Whether you are a novice skier or a professional on the slopes, making sure you purchase the right ski equipment is vital for staying safe and minimising your risk of injury.

The range of options on offer can be somewhat overwhelming; however, when it comes to choosing the correct kit, it is wise to first consider what it is you are protecting yourself against, in order to make the right decision for your circumstances. Jonathan Bell, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Wimbledon Clinics, offers his expertise to help you invest in the right ski equipment:

• First of all, consider the weather. A sturdy and high quality winter hard shell jacket is essential for protecting yourself against the elements, teamed with an assortment of layers, designed to trap heat close to the body and ensure you are properly defended should the weather take a turn for the worse.

• Next, there is the issue of sun glare. This can dazzle a skier, leaving them vulnerable to missing crucial bumps and slopes in the terrain ahead. Ski goggles with polarised or photochromic lenses will help reduce this effect whilst also protecting the delicate eye area from irritation, debris and damage. Jonathan advises choosing ski goggles over glasses as, in the event of an accident, glasses can easily fall off or even smash, risking damage to the eyes. Choose goggles made from a pliable polycarbonate material that effectively follows the contours of the face and that come with a thick, sturdy elastic strap to hold them in place.

• It is also important to protect your feet from the cold as well as from painful blisters that can easily develop during a long day out on the slopes. Specialist ski socks are your best bet for providing the proper support for legs and feet as well as allowing for the correct level of ventilation – ordinary cotton socks will cause you discomfort as they are not made from the right material for the job.

• Snowboarders have a higher incidence of wrist injuries than skiers, simply because it is harder to regain your balance with both feet on one board. As a result, supportive and comfortable wrist guards are a must in order to protect this vulnerable part of the body.

• When it comes to protecting your head, a well-fitting helmet may not be mandatory but should certainly be a serious consideration, particularly if you have a need for speed on the slopes. “Helmets should be considered vital for children due to the vulnerability of their heads to injury,” warns Jonathan.

• Finally, choosing the correct ski boots and skis is one of the top considerations in terms of safety when skiing. Jonathan notes that hiring from a reputable resort is acceptable as the staff will ensure that the boots are a good fit. Badly fitting boots will mean that you are not only uncomfortable but you will have difficulties controlling your skis, putting yourself and others at risk of injury. Rental boots are often a fairly loose fit, so if you are going to buy boots or skis then Jonathan recommends you purchase boots before skis. Borrowing skis from a friend is very risky; even if the boots appear to fit, there are adjustments that need to be made to ensure the bindings release safely.

The best option is to purchase your own boots, ensure they are properly fitted, and break them in before you hit the slopes. Just like skis, there are a dazzling range of options available, dependent on factors such as your gender, level of ability, and the conditions you are planning to ski in. For example, racing calls for boots made from a stiffer type of material, whereas ski touring requires a softer, lighter variety of boot adapted to allow the boot to hinge on the skis.

Partaking in winter sports is an exhilarating experience – one that thousands of people around the world enjoy on a regular basis. Ensuring you are kitted out with the right ski equipment means you are more likely to stay safe on the slopes and can focus your energies on more important considerations – such as having the time of your life…

If you would like to receive our guide on how to get your bindings set at the optimal level for your safety click here.