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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - More than half a million British skiers and snowboarders will hit the slopes this year impaired by alcohol, according to a survey.
Insurance company MORE TH>N said 74 percent of respondents to its survey of 1,072 skiers claimed that drinking heavily the night before does not affect their skiing the next day and that the cool air clears their heads.
The insurer said it expected nearly 2.5 million British skiers to descend on Alpine resorts this winter, with 23 percent of them expecting to drink 18 units of alcohol on at least one heavy night out, leaving more than twice the legal limit of alcohol for drivers in their systems the next morning.
With the average intermediate level skier traveling at speeds of up 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) on unimpeded runs, the threat of serious accidents is very real indeed, MORE TH>N said.
"Drink driving is severely frowned upon and drink skiing should be too -- it's just as dangerous," it said in a statement.
The company calculated from its research and in conjunction with a doctor that those British skiers on a heavy night out will finish drinking and be in their beds by 1 a.m. and wake up at 8 a.m. to start skiing at 9.
That would leave the average weight skier with seven units of alcohol in them when they start off the first runs of the day, according to Doctor Harvinder Gill.
Gill said in the statement that such skiers would be susceptible to impaired balance, reduced visual acuity, impaired perception and a loss of critical judgment.
"The results of the research will make bleak reading for sensible, sober skiers, as they also show how a large majority of the 2.5 million Brits heading for the slopes this winter are just as excited about the cocktails on offer in the local bars as they are the fresh virgin snow," MORE TH>N said.
It advised people to wait until after lunch to hit the slopes, drink slower on a night out, buy a pocket breathalyser to check intake, eat well -- and not to fool themselves into thinking cool air brings a clear head.
Reporting by Alexander Clare; Editing by Steve Addison