Millions of winter sports men and women will be heading for the slopes of Europe, America and elsewhere this season and the some of the worlds finest atheletes will compete in the Winter Olympics in Utah in February 2002.
Few think they need to worry about the effects of the sun the wrong attitude, says skin cancer expert Dr Mark Birch-Machin.
He says indulging in high altitude winter sports can expose the skin to very high levels of the suns harmful UV rays. Holidaymakers therefore need to take as much care of their skin on a skiing or snowboarding break as they would do on a summer beach vacation.
Dr Birch-Machin points out that many of the world's ski resorts enjoy very sunny days - but he says that even in cloudy weather the UV rays in sunlight penetrate through to the slopes.
Snow also reflects 85% of the sun's harmful UV rays, which bounce back off the ground. This means that skiers and snowboarders can be burnt in body areas such as under the chin and nose. This can also occur in the shade.
The higher skiers and snowboarders go, the greater their risk of serious sunburn because there is less atmosphere to filter the UV rays. In general the air filters 4% less UV rays for every 1,000 feet above sea level - meaning that at an altitude of 5,000 feet - and most ski resorts in Europe and the US stand at or above this height there is 20% more UV radiation than at sea level.
This is made worse by the fact that the parts of the body usually exposed to the sun on a ski holiday particularly the face - are the most likely areas for skin cancer to develop.
In addition, keen skiers and snowboarders will be exposed to the suns UV rays on the slopes for six to seven hours per day.