Three ways to stay safer on the slopes this season

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For all their popularity, skiing and snowboarding can be risky sports, a point driven home by the death of skier and Vail scion Tony Seibert in an avalanche last week. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, four people have been caught in slides so far this season, with two, including Seibert, dying as a result. The danger isn't limited to backcountry users, either. Fourteen skiers and riders suffered fatal injuries inbounds at Colorado resorts last season, mostly from collisions with trees and rocks.

Here are three ways to help ensure that you stay happy and injury-free for the rest of the winter, whether you mountaineer or ski the chairlifts.

See also: Photos: Tony Seibert, Vail Mountain founder's grandson, dies in avalanche near ski area

Learn safety basics at Colorado resorts this month January is National Safety Month for ski mountains across America, and Colorado Ski Country USA is putting on special safety clinics and demos at member resorts throughout the state.

On weekends, guests at Copper Mountain can shadow ski patrollers on their end-of-day sweeps of the runs. At A-Basin, Centura Health representatives will be giving out helmets to guests for donations, while patrollers in Crested Butte will be conducting avalanche dog demonstrations every Saturday of the month.

For a complete list of ski-safey events in January, visit Colorado Ski Country's website.

Take an Avy 1 class

Taking an avalanche class gives backcountry skiers indispensable insight into how to analyze hazards and avoid possible slide zones. The standard is the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course, a three-day workshop that mixes classroom learning with practical exercises in evaluating the snowpack and using equipment like probes and shovels.

REI offers the class at its Boulder location, with field practice at Rocky Mountain National Park, for $335 for members, or $355 for non-members. The next session will start on Tuesday, January 21.

Dip your toes in the water at a free avalanche seminar Not ready to commit to a week of avy training? You can pick up some of the basics at a free avalanche awareness class at Wilderness Exchange Unlimited on Tuesday, January 21. Instructors from Friends of Berthoud Pass will host the two-hour presentation, which covers everything from how to read an avalanche report to proper gear, different kinds of slides and the fundamentals of traveling in avalanche terrain.

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