Ski Etiquette

Ski Etiquette

Ski Etiquette: How to make friends and stay happy on the trail

One of the best things about cross country skiing is the community. At Gear West, we are connected to the ski community across the Upper Midwest. As with any community, there are ways to be considerate and ways that might be less so.

So, what makes the best ski trail etiquette? We put together a list of our top etiquette tips. We also asked professional skier Alayna Sonnesyn to share her thoughts in a video she recorded from Europe. She even got Jessie Diggins to help highlight what not to do out on the trail.

Here’s our list, and make sure to check out Alanya and Jessie’s video on our YouTube channel.

  1. Retire the old race suit.

You may have fond memories of skiing the Birkie two decades ago, but let’s not wear that old race suit out on the trail, especially if it’s been through the wash a few dozen times. Fellow skiers will be less inclined to ski with you if they must stare at your threadbare suit. 

  1. Don’t skate on classic tracks.

Classic skiers have all seen this. The tracks are chewed up and trampled from inconsiderate skate skiers. Those tracks can make or break someone’s outing, so do your best to avoid skiing over them.

  1. Say something as you pass skiers.

A friendly ‘on your left’ or ‘skier back’ is always a good idea. Many of us enjoy skiing out in the woods for the quiet and the isolation, and we don’t want to be surprised by someone coming up quickly. If you've had a good jump scare out in the woods because someone blows by without notice, you know why this is important. It’s best to announce yourself from a distance.

  1. Earbuds: One or none.

Exercising with music or podcasts is really fun. It can even help motivate you on those days when you’re feeling a little sluggish.

That feeling of total focus or bliss you get with earbuds is great, but it can also make you oblivious to the people around you. The rule of thumb is to ski with one earbud in if you must listen to music. That way, you can hear when someone is approaching or needs to get your attention.

  1. Don’t stop in the center of the trail.

    This one is especially important for those early-season outings when many people are skiing on the same short loop. You’ll need to stop at some point, and when you do, make sure to pull over to the side of the trail, preferably the side without classic tracks. Stopping in the middle of the trail is more than just a nuisance. It can also lead to collisions.

Consider, too, whether you’re stopping at the bottom of a hill, which can be dangerous. Try to find a good flat spot with clear sight lines.

  1. Be careful with poles!

This one can be painful. Watch Jessie Diggins finish second (!!) in Ruka, Finland earlier this season with a face bloodied from a pole, and you’ll get the idea.

We all know that poles can be dangerous. In Jessie’s case, the injury resulted from the handle, not the tip. It’s a good reminder that both sides of a pole can cause injury. The best etiquette is to be aware of others around you, and try to keep the tips low and away from faces. This goes for off-trail, too.

  1. Don’t litter.

This one sounds easy, but anyone who has skied on popular trails has seen remnants of gels, aluminum foil, and hand warmers. When you’re out on the trail, make sure to take a look around after stopping. It’s common to drop an item on the trail, especially with cold hands. Those tiny pieces of plastic and metal add up. Please do your part to keep the trail clean.

  1. Remember this is supposed to be fun!

We all know how fun this sport can be. Whether you started in youth leagues or later in life, you know skiers are a special type of athlete. Sometimes we get so focused on accomplishing goals, we forget to enjoy the moment. So try to keep things fun. Enjoy the people you’re skiing with and seek whatever you love about the sport.

And finally, subscribe to Gear West’s YouTube channel!

You’ll find great content on ski fittings, training advice, and much more from our great community.



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