How To Get Up From A Fall

A question from reader Jeffrey Dunning:

What are good exercises to help skiers get up after a fall? Getting up with both ski boots attached to skis is a lot harder than when I was young.

For an expert opinion, we turned to Seth Masia, founder of the skiyoungernow.com instructional approach, offered at the Aspen/Snowmass Ski School.

Unless the slope is pretty steep — in which case your hips are already well above your skis — you have to be pretty spry to get up after a fall with both skis still attached. The drill is ALWAYS to pivot on your hip until both skis are below you and oriented across the fall line, so you can stand up into a traverse position. Then lean forward, putting one hand on the snow in front of your knees and the other hand on the snow behind your shoulder. The hands are now positioned to prevent sliding either forward or back. Push yourself erect by “walking” on your hands. If you don’t have the strength for this, take off the uphill ski. Now you can “walk” your hands until you can get the uphill knee onto the snow. From kneeling on the uphill knee, you should be able to stand up while using the poles for balance. Once again, you need a triangle — one pole in the snow ahead, one pole behind, to keep from sliding in either direction. 

Note: This technique requires upper body strength. Check with a PT or gym trainers to learn more.

Have a question about technique, gear, destinations, travel, or any other aspect of winter sports? Send it to [email protected], and we’ll do our best to find an expert to respond.

6 Comments

  1. This is a very Good message. A video would be very useful too. Thank you.

  2. Another trick which I used recently after I managed to ski into not one but two tree wells was to remove both skis and get clear of the hole. I stuck the tails of the skis into the deep snow (up to my navel) at 45 degree angle. I lined up my boots with the bindings and pushed the ski down hard. Deep, soft snow makes the usual way of snapping into bindings all but impossible.

  3. I have never seen Seth fall but his message makes sense. My solution is simply don’t fall and it works as long as you don’t get cleaned out by a snowboarder as happened to me several years ago. My solution to that is ski only mid week except for small areas where reckless skiers and boarders are fewer.

    • Dave should bring his golf putter. It might prop him up again.

    • I had a bad fall today..I’d like to say it was at triple tomahawk on an extreme steep, but truthfully I just tipped over and fell on flat hard snow stopping and catching the wrong edge at a lift base at Powder Mountain. Shoulder is still complaining. I had to take both skis off to get back up because I knew I couldn’t do it without angling the 70 y.o. knees into the “danger zone”. Embarrassing but painless. I don’t normally fall either. Doodoo happens I guess.

  4. Is the question posed for a groomed trail that has very firm enough snow where a basket will hold within the depth of the length of one’s hand or is this a problem when you have fallen in deep powder or off piste soft snow with firm snow almost the full length of one’s ski pole under the surface? The walking with hands does not work in these last 2 situations. The last 2 scenes in trying to pivoting on one’s hip also does not work. Sort of like a sea lion on land. One needs to get both skis into the air while you remain in the hole you made where you have fallen and orient your skis across the fall line by twisting your body and bringing your skis down to the downhill side across the slope, together. Then, if too weak to raise yourself up with pole straps, then the poles should go in an X.
    If you still feel like the sea lion, then drop the uphill ski but leave the other one on to avoid sinking both legs to the crotch when you rise. Use the removed ski as a long pole and then make it a platform as you maneuver slowly to a balanced standing position. Of course, getting your boot back into this uphill ski will require dexterity, as your knee may be touching your chin. This sequencing could take 15 minutes or more. Remember, struggling is tough on the heart. I’ve even stopped and listened to nature for a few minutes just to relax and to take it slow. What one does for deep powder!

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