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Risk and reward - are we all skiing safely?

A week ago today - Good Friday, April 2019 - I was discharged from a French hospital following my first serious skiing accident in a quarter of a century on the slopes. I was hit by another skier. The incident was a valuable reminder of the need to have an EHIC card and travel insurance in place - my €6,200 hospital bill was covered 80% by the EHIC card and 20% by travel insurance. From my hospital bed and with time on my hands, I wrote this blog. There's an important family skiing message within it, so please read and share this article.

Thank you - Ben Moore

Because there was a fear of haemorrhaging I was admitted to ICU. I’m thankful and grateful for the brilliant care and treatment I received there from the various nurses. I had a constant round of scans and tests. The hospital food was great. I even had a view of Mont Blanc from my ICU room window.

 

My body and mind was in shock for several hours after being admitted. And the reality is you have a lot of time to think on holiday in a French hospital.

 

Am I angry with the other skier? An accident perhaps, but how can I not be? He was above me on slope. I was making controlled and obvious turns. How did he, his skis and boots end up in my midriff?

 

Of course skiing carries risk with it. The moment you click into your skis on a mountain you are increasing your chances of being involved in an accident. But by skiing safe and sensibly, you reduce the risk.

 

I’ve tried to find a logical explanation. I hope the boy has done the same - reflected honestly on what happened, truly considered if he needs to modify how he skis in the future. The reality is everyone young and old has to police themselves on the slopes.

His father told my wife afterwards he was a “competent skier” and had just “done a black”.

 

When I was doubled over his foot I remember noticing he was wearing Head World Cup Rebels race boots, while he also had distinctive Komperdell slalom guards on his poles. All the signs he was a racer - maybe dry slope back in the UK just like my sons? The indications are he should have the ability to control and adapt his speed and descent. But then there’s the invincibility of youth to factor in.

 

This is one of those turn back time moments. What if we hadn’t been on that run? What if we’d left the top of the run five minutes later? What if the boy had skied in some other way or place? Too late now.

 

A friend contacted me to say they’re in Tignes this week and her husband stopped another English dad to politely say his children were skiing too fast. The intervention wasn’t received well.

 

Ultimately we each have a responsibility to ensure we ski safe. To ski within our ability and technique. To ensure we know the rules of the slope. Of course skiing is a fun activity and it carries risk - that perhaps is what partly drives us to do it, to push ourselves.

 

But each of us must always ski with care and compassion for all the other skiers around us. Don’t be the one who tears someone else’s spleen. It’s not fun - in fact it’s really scary - and has a lasting impact longer than a week’s family skiing holiday.

 

So I will heal and I intend to be skiing again next winter - but if you are the parents of a skiing family, maybe, just maybe spend a few minutes with your children to educate them about being good, responsible skiers as well as fun skiers.

 

Surely this is the right thing to do next time you take to the slopes for some rewarding family ski

Family skiing creates many rewarding feelings and emotions - happiness, enjoyment, adrenaline, togetherness, achievement, laughter, fun and more.

 

Right now I feel sadness, frustration, boredom, anger, depression, resentment, reflection and a sense of what if.

 

It’s the Easter school holidays and we’re skiing as a family, as we normally, do. Last week in Les Arcs, this week Samoëns/Flaine. Well actually they’re skiing. I’m writing this from a bed in Hopital de Sallanches.

 

It’s Friday morning now but on Monday I fell victim to something I’d avoided in almost a quarter of a century of skiing. An accident on the slopes. A big one too.

 

It was a sunny day in a not-at-all-busy Flaine. Perfect visibility and slightly softening spring snow conditions on the blue Serpentine piste. I was following our 14 year old down the run, skiing and turning normally. Further ahead he had safely stopped on the side of the piste. I turned to my left to begin slowing down and stop with him.

 

Bang. Still now I have no idea which direction it happened from. I never saw it coming. But another skier, coming from above me on slope clattered into me. He must have been travelling because it felt like I’d been hit by a train. He was a 14-year-old English boy skiing with his dad.

 

I was crumpled on the snow, doubled over groaning with the pain across by abdomen and left knee and wrist. With my face down I could hear my son calling; “Mummy come here now.”

 

A lot happened quickly I think. A passing ESF instructor - Francine was her name I believe - stopped to help and call emergency 112. Merci beaucoup Francine! Maybe five or six Securite des Pistes first responders were with us in no time. Amazing guys, calm and clear and ultra-professional.

 

We were both taken down on rescue sleds to Flaine medical centre. I understand the boy was discharged from there later and walked away. The resort doctor had concerns about internal injuries with me, after initial ultrasound checks. I was dispatched to the nearest big hospital.

 

Despite my frustrations, he made the right call. A CT scan shortly after being admitted to the hospital in Sallanches revealed the result of the impact - the other skier had torn my spleen, in addition to significant bruising and internal trauma.

Ben earlier on holiday Holday photos Flaine back of ambulance Ben in ICU Discharged from hospital