Snow Sports

You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity to understand your overall compliance responsibilities.

The Snow Sports guidelines refer to the following disciplines and activities; alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross country (nordic) skiing, snow shoe walking and snow tubing.

Generic information relating to all snow sport activities may be found in the sections entitled; Introduction, Instruction, Equipment and Clothing, Safety and Emergency Procedures.

Further information relating to the specific disciplines and activities is contained under the headings of Qualifications and Experience, Supervision and Venues.

Introduction

These guidelines are to be used by schools to provide relevant information when planning Snow Sport activities. These should be read in conjunction with other relevant Department of Education and Communities policies including the Excursion Policy Implementation Procedures.

For the purpose of these guidelines the following definitions shall apply:

Principal

School Principal

Teacher(s) in Charge

Teacher(s) responsible for the overall conduct of the excursion.

Supervisors

May include teachers, instructors and/or persons working under the direction of the Teacher in Charge, including school approved volunteers.

Instructor

Person providing instruction or tuition in snow sport related activity.

Ski Patroller

Professional ski patroller employed by resort to monitor ski runs or volunteer ski patroller used by the resort to monitor ski runs.

Guide

Minimum Level 2 Nordic Instructor or an equivalent nation/international recognised qualification or relevant Vetab qualification.


As part of the learning experience and skill development for environmental education, physical education, sport or outdoor recreation programs, many schools engage in snow sports activities. These activities can range from short bus trips to snow covered areas to such highly specialised activities as alpine and nordic skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and snow shoe walking excursions undertaken within or near established resort areas with ready access to emergency assistance.

Ski touring, which is a much more challenging activity requiring significant additional planning, supervision and instructor competency, should only be considered following the completion of an ‘activity specific’ comprehensive risk assessment.

Schools may consider using specialist external providers for all snow sports activities.

Tobogganing is not to be undertaken

Parents or caregivers must be informed of full details of the location, supervision to be provided, activities to be undertaken including mandatory lessons, clothing requirements, the communication system and protocols to be used, cost and intended departure and return times before their written consent is obtained.

The consent forms must contain:

  • A clause authorising medical aid if it is considered necessary by the teacher in charge/supervising staff (or alternatively a qualified ski patroller from a ski resort).
  • A section where the parent advises the school of any illness or medical condition that the student suffers from, or any medication the student is currently taking (including asthma sprays, etc) or may be required for use in an emergency, for example, EpiPens.
  • A section that allows parents to provide advice as to the snow sport experience and relevant ability of their child.

Sample Consent Form.

Preparation of an alert list and distribution of student medication is the responsibility of the teacher in charge. The alert list must be collated from information on medical consent forms prior to departure. All supervising teachers should be provided with the medical list and a copy should be made available to the First Aid or Medical Centre of the venue being used in the event of an accident.

Students are to be supplied with a laminated Identity Card (ID card) prepared by the school. It should detail the students name, age, relevant medical alerts and emergency contact number (i.e. the advertised mobile number for the teacher in charge) and other emergency procedures. The ID card is to be carried/worn by the students at all times while involved in Snow Sport activities.

Instruction

Prior to any participation in Snow Sport activity all students must be thoroughly briefed and prepared for the excursion. These briefing sessions must provide information regarding:

  • Daily mandatory lessons schedule.
  • Relevant and appropriate emergency procedures.
  • Minimum clothing and health protection requirements.
  • The Alpine Responsibility Code.
  • Use of equipment (skis, snowboards bindings etc).
  • Importance of student welfare measures including the need for individual preparation in fitness as well as an understanding of student responsibilities.

It is mandatory for all students to have an assessment lesson by qualified instructor(s) at the commencement of the program. It is also mandatory that all students have a two hour lesson each morning of the program. Schools are to include afternoon lessons in the program for beginner level students.

Reasonable steps must be taken to demonstrate that students understand and will adhere to the Alpine Responsibility Code.

At least one teacher must be present at the lessons and be familiar with the resort’s “snow sports schools” teaching plan so that the appropriate techniques are reinforced in practice sessions (outside of the required lessons). The supervisors, in consultation with the snow sports instructor(s), should ‘record’ the progression of all students.

Instruction in the use of all types of ski tows and ski lifts must be given to students (as part of the lessons delivered by the snow sports instructors) before they ride them.

Students are to be instructed, not to ski/snowboard alone (i.e. in groups preferably no less than 4 students per group) and only ski on designated runs and to adhere to the Alpine Responsibility Code. Generally resorts have standardised trail markers that are colour coded to indicate the degree of difficulty:

  • Green dot – easiest.
  • Blue square – more difficult.
  • Black diamond – most difficult.

Students must only ski/snowboard in areas commensurate with their assessed skill level.

At the completion of each day’s program all students must leave the slopes together.

The teacher in charge must ensure that no students are left behind at the end of each day’s program.

Decisions regarding the conditions of the slopes and weather should be made in consultation with snow sports instructors, the ski resort or ski patrol officers.

As noted previously, prior to undertaking any Snow Sports activity, all students must

  • Be made aware of the content and understand the requirement to adhere to the Alpine Responsibility Code.
  • Recieve instruction on relevant appropriate emergency procedures.

Equipment and Clothing

Helmets are mandatory for both students and supervisors, for all alpine skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing activities. Helmets must meet current snow sport standards.

Wrist guards are mandatory for snowboarding activities.

All equipment, owned or hired, must be in good operating condition, suited to the activity to be undertaken and the skill level and physical characteristics of the participant. Instructors should advise, the teacher in charge if any participant has equipment that is not suited to their ability. The participant is required to change the equipment immediately after the lessons or sooner if its use poses an unacceptable risk. Any equipment that is defective must be immediately replaced or fixed. It is advisable that supervisors carry spare gloves & goggles.

Participants must be appropriately dressed for the conditions to be encountered and the activity to be undertaken. The teacher in charge will note that in recommending clothing, alpine weather is unpredictable and very changeable. Appropriate clothing will reduce the risk of hypothermia.

A suggested list should include:

  • Helmet.
  • Ski pants, waterproof jacket with hood, e.g. gortex or japara jacket.
  • Windproof, waterproof over-pants.
  • Warm woollen socks.
  • Woollen or synthetic long trousers. Jeans are unsuitable.
  • Warm underclothing.
  • Warm woollen or thermal shirt.
  • Woollen jumper or polar fleece.
  • Woollen beanie, balaclava and/or neck warmer.
  • Mittens or ski gloves.
  • Sun hat and SPF50+ sunscreen.
  • Change of clothing (especially socks and shoes).

Wet weather gear that is waterproof and windproof is strongly recommended. Arrangements should be made to hire this type of gear if the student does not have it.

Other Personal Items may include:

  • Snow goggles or quality sun glasses are essential for all people involved in a ski trip. Lenses must be impact resistant and offer 100% UV protection.
  • A whistle must be carried by each skier for cross country activities.
  • A small day pack for food, drinks, and sunscreen, is recommended. These items are essential for cross country skiing.

Bindings on skis and snowboards must be properly adjusted (by a qualified technician). The teacher in charge should check with resort/provider regarding the use brakes or retention straps for snowboarding.

For cross country skiing, the teacher in charge should ensure the party has:

  • An appropriately equipped first aid kit.
  • Sufficient provisions including food and water.
  • Spare parts, including (but not necessarily limited to) bindings, screws, pliers, screwdriver, wire, etc.

Safety

At least one supervisor must have recognised current training in emergency care. For groups involved in overnight stays, at least one accompanying teacher must also possess recognised current training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. For cross country activities where medical aid may take several hours or longer to reach a casualty, it is essential that a supervisor has a St John Ambulance Remote Area First Aid qualification (or equivalent).

Any group moving outside the immediate area of the ski resort that is off designated trails should carry with them a mobile phone and spare battery, EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) and PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons). PLBs are available for hire at all ski resort areas.

Emergency Procedures

Trips need to be well planned. Students must be briefed in regard to safety issues. The group leaders and all supervisors must carry an Emergency Card detailing procedures to follow in emergencies and contact numbers. The ID Card issued to all students should include emergency protocols and procedures. All party members must know how to put these procedures into practice.

All supervisors must be familiar with the emergency services operating at the proposed venue. Supervisors and students should be informed how to contact ‘emergency services’ if necessary. Mobile phone (s) are desirable (with spare batteries) at all Snow Sport activities but supervisors should allow for the fact they may not operate in all locales. Students should be instructed that if they cannot locate members of the Ski Patrol they should alert the Ski Lift operators of the ‘emergency’. Ski Lift Operators can be located at both the top and bottom of lifts.

Students must be briefed on appropriate behaviour, the limits of their skiing/snowboarding areas and their responsibility and commitment to the group with whom they are skiing or snowboarding.

Teachers in charge must plan for a range of emergencies, for example, a lost member of a group, a lost group, medical emergencies including hypothermia, equipment failure, rain storms and white-out conditions.

The Teacher in charge and supervisors need to be aware that minor, or seemingly minor, problems, slow progress and wet clothing can become serious emergencies in certain circumstances. Attention to detail in planning is essential so that if they do occur, they can be dealt with promptly and effectively.

All supervisors and students must be familiar with procedures for alerting the ski patrol and the locations at which they are to assemble without having to rely on instructions from teachers, who may be assisting with the incident or injured themselves.

 

Alpine Skiing/Snowboarding

Qualifications and Experience

The snow sports instructors must have industry standard accreditation (as a minimum the APSI Level 1 – Alpine/Snowboard or an equivalent national/ international recognised qualification) and a sound technical background in alpine skiing/ snowboarding.

Supervision

For Snow Sports activities within ski resort areas the supervisor/instructor to student ratio must not exceed 1:12.

When planning, approving and conducting snow excursions, the nature of the activity, age, experience, ability and maturity of the students, venue characteristics, likely weather conditions and experience of supervisors needs to be considered when determining whether an increase in staff supervision requirements is appropriate.

When planning the excursion, the principal and organising staff must ensure that the supervisors have the prerequisite experience/ability commensurate with the range of ability of the students to ensure appropriate supervision is provided.

At all times a teacher must be present to take overall responsibility.

Venues

The areas selected for alpine skiing / snowboarding must be serviced by a ski patrol and students confined to a designated area, i.e. marked and defined ski runs and terrain.

Resort areas must be used. Resort areas are defined as those areas having accommodation, ski tows, a search and rescue facility, a ski patrol service, medical service, groomed ski trails and professional ski instruction schools. The villages in New South Wales are Thredbo, Perisher Ski Resort, Charlottes Pass and Mt Selwyn.

Selection of venues and slopes must take into account the ability, age, fitness and medical condition of students. The condition of slopes and the ability of students will vary throughout the day. Supervisors are reminded of the need to assess when a run has become too difficult for students, i.e. has become icy, or where students’ skills have deteriorated, e.g. they have tired during the day or lost confidence.

All supervisors must be familiar with the manner in which emergency services operate at the proposed venue and know how to contact them if necessary.

 

Cross Country (Nordic) Skiing/Snow Shoe Walking

Qualification and Experience

The instructor must have industry standard accreditation (as a minimum the APSI Level 1 – Nordic or an equivalent national/international recognised qualification or relevant Vetab qualification: Cross Country Skiing – Guide Day Ski Tours SROSKTAO11A or Snow Shoeing SROBWGOO8A ) and a sound technical background in cross country skiing.

The instructor must:

  • Be a highly competent cross country skier and hold a current Senior First Aid qualification.
  • Be able to effect basic repairs to ski gear using a repair kit which will be carried by the leader.
  • Be familiar with the area being skied.
  • Have route planning/navigation skills taking into account weather conditions, escape routes and the ability of the group.

Supervision

At least two supervisors one of whom must be a guide (as a minimum Level 2 Nordic Instructor or an equivalent national/international recognised qualification or relevant Vetab qualification) must ski with the students. For nordic or cross country skiing in a resort location or at some other location with ready access to emergency services, the supervision ratio is 1:10.

For ski tours which traverse significant distance and place the group away from marked trails or where the group is more than one (1) hour from emergency assistance, it is necessary to increase the supervision provided. This supervision must not exceed 1:6 with a maximum of 12 participants. An additional risk assessment for this activity should be undertaken by qualified personnel competent in ski touring.

Snow shoe walking is permitted as a snow sport activity. It is a strenuous activity.

For snow shoe walking the instructor should have expert knowledge of the terrain, equipment and area. All members of the party should be fit and experienced in walking and pack carrying. Clothing and equipment must be of a high standard. It is highly recommended that training in the use of snow shoes occurs prior to any excursion.

Venues

Resort areas often specify cross country ski areas or trails. Alternatively, sheltered areas with good natural boundaries may also be considered suitable.

Routes must be carefully planned, considering the age, experience, ability and fitness levels of the group. Escape routes are to be planned should weather conditions change. Short circuit routes enable staff to supervise and observe the students at all times.

For day ski tours, the program established by the teacher in charge must include details of proposed routes, escape routes, campsites (if applicable), maps used, emergency equipment being carried, distances to be travelled daily and the program lodged with both the school and local authorities e.g. police.

The group must be able to complete the route in the scheduled time. It is incumbent on the teacher-in-charge in consultation with the instructor to check the weather forecast to determine that conditions are acceptable for the activity. Judgements regarding the conduct of the trip should be made accordingly.

Snow Tubing

Snow tubing involves sliding down a snow tubing run on an inflatable tube. It is an activity that can be enjoyed by students not involved in either skiing or snowboarding. Students may only participate in snow tubing at ski resorts that have designated and supervised “Snow Tubing” areas with clearly defined ‘runs’ and ‘finishing areas’.