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Skiing Injury Facts

I. The Dangers of Snow Sports

When combined, the total injury risk for all the snow sports is around 0.2% to 0.4%, which means that an average of 2 to 4 persons/1,000 per day need medical assistance. This is actually a small number and attribute to the jobs at the ski areas. To further grasp it, try to compare the scenario to an average soccer game wherein 2 to 3 players (14%) typically acquire an injury at the end of a 90-minute match. Hence if you consider snow sports to be unsafe, then soccer must really be perilous.

II. Snow Sports with the Lowest Injury Risk

Based on the latest on-piste snow sport injury risks (drawn from the most recent Scottish injury data between 1999 and 2005), here are the rates in ascending order.

Snow sport On piste injury rate
(Injuries per 1000 skier days) On piste injury rate
(Mean Days Between Injury)
1. Telemark skiing 0.41 2411
2. Alpine skiing 1.74 573
3. Snowboarding 3.56 281
4. Skiboarding 8.0 125
All sports combined 2.8 357

These rates only pertain to on-piste injuries. Although it is possible to acquire one off-piste (especially snowboarding & telemark), it has not been logged in any study yet.

III. The General Direction of Injury Rates

In alpine skiing, the rates have been steadily declining for the past 5 years. Injuries from snowboarding have sprung up and down slightly every year. Ski boarding injury rate which was previously on a constant rise – has decreased in the last two years. Last, the injury rate for telemark skiing has continued to be static despite the fact that its general injury risk is diminutive.

IV. Snowboarding and Skiing Death Rates

The risk of dying from playing these sports is tremendously low – with an average of 0.7 deaths every 1 million skier visits. In snowboarding, the statistics is 35% lesser at 0.46 deaths/million. The rates, however, do not include deaths caused by medical conditions. Skiers are more prone to dying than snowboarders due to impact injury. In fact, around 35 to 40 snowboarders and skiers die annually in the United States. Excessive speeds and jump heights are typically involved in a number of deaths.

V. Typical Causes of Injuries

Most snow sports injuries arise as the immediate consequence when someone accidentally falls over. In other words, the majority of these incidents take place due to user error. Frequently, the injured individual may have lost control or travelled very fast on a slope that does not suit his ability level. Around 10% of injuries rise from collision with object or another person, 5% are lift-associated, and 5% result from equipment failure. Needless to say, secondary factors are important for instance, impact with ice or solid snow. The fact that such statistics are based on accurate reports must also be kept in mind.

VI. Safety Helmets

Current evidence suggests that safety helmets may thwart or decrease the gravity of many head injuries, but no data actually exist to support the notion that they will shield against fatal ones.

VII. The Gentlest for the Knees

The answer: either telemark skiing or snowboarding. Ski boarding and alpine skiing have the greatest number of knee injuries. Snowboarding, on the other hand, is much gentler to the knees so long as you do not intend to make lots of heavy-impact jumps.

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