A-Z of Skiing: Q is for queues

What are the five essentials of skiing? Snow, warm clothes, bending the knees, turning and queuing. The first four are dealt with in ski-instruction manuals; the fifth is completely ignored. This is a problem for beginners, who may be unaware that some US states, including Vermont, are planning to introduce on-the-spot fines next year for line-jumping and that, under proposed French legislation, forming an orderly queue would constitute obstruction of a public right of way. So here are a few practical notes for new skiers on correct lift-base procedures.

What are the five essentials of skiing? Snow, warm clothes, bending the knees, turning and queuing. The first four are dealt with in ski-instruction manuals; the fifth is completely ignored. This is a problem for beginners, who may be unaware that some US states, including Vermont, are planning to introduce on-the-spot fines next year for line-jumping and that, under proposed French legislation, forming an orderly queue would constitute obstruction of a public right of way. So here are a few practical notes for new skiers on correct lift-base procedures.

In the USA, skiers must stand placidly in pens next to chair-lifts until instructed to move by authorised personnel. Using one's own initiative is strictly forbidden. Should any unauthorised person suggest that you move ahead of them, stand your ground and insist that they go first; the best way of negotiating with them, in the event of a stalemate, is to ask "Where are you from?".

Under the French system - in contrast - all skiers should immediately move forward to the narrowest point in the designated path to the ski- lift. Here, only two modes of behaviour are permissible: outrage at the attitude of other skiers, or utter indifference towards them. Under no circumstances must patience or tolerance be displayed.

In Italy, manifesting an urgency to get on the ski-lift is not so much ill-mannered as physically repellent. The correct procedure in the queue is to keep a close eye on other skiers and make necessary adjustments to clothing, eyewear and hair, moving forward only when necessary; only at the last minute should the ski-lift be noticed, and boarded without enthusiasm. Other behavioural signs may be difficult to interpret: for example, if another skier displays scornful contempt for you, that either means that they are very attractive, or that you are.

In Austria, just wait your turn and then get on the lift. It seems to work there.

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