How Common are Skiing Accidents?
The feel of euphoria and thrill as wind and snow pass you while skiing down the mountain is something that millions of skiers crave.
But, like any other sport, skiing can be dangerous if done without caution.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or a pro at skiing — accidents and injuries do happen.
It is estimated that there are more than 300 million people around the world who do winter sports like skiing and many of them have been involved in some kind of minor or major ski accident.
According to the National Ski Areas Association, skiing fatalities occur mostly on the same population that engages in high-risk behavior.
Victims are predominantly male from their late teens to late 30s. They are usually made up of above-average skiers and snowboarders who like to ride at high speeds.
At the same time, less than 10% of recorded fatally injured skiers and snowboarders are under 10 or over 50 years of age.
Deaths on the slopes are rare and have been in decline. NSAA actually reported that skiing injuries and death related to the sport have declined 50% since 1970.
This is thanks to modern developments of the sport: high-quality safety gear, safety responsibility of ski resorts, and availability of proper ski training.
Most common skiing accidents
The decline of accidents occurs doesn’t mean that you can be lax about your skiing safety.
In fact, there’s still a chance for you to get injured especially if you are unprepared and unaware of the possibilities.
To get you prepped for your next ski trips, here are the most common ski accidents that you need to avoid:
1. Skier/Snowboarder collision
This happens more usual than you can expect. Sometimes, other skiers get careless and get out of control that they can bump into you or worse, cause a full-on collision.
Just imagine someone going downhill at a high speed and crashing into you. All that skiing equipment and body weight will surely be enough to knock your lights out.
If a skier collision does happen, the person might get away with a few scratches and bruises, maybe even a sprain or a broken bone.
But if worse comes to worst, traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death for skiers and this kind of accident is the primary cause of it.
2. Object collision
When you’re skiing, you have to be aware of your surroundings and where you’re headed to because you might just hit a tree or a protruding rock.
You have to be extra careful especially if you’re no longer on the bunny slope because the higher you climb on the mountain, the higher the chances you’ll encounter an object partially blocking your way down the slope.
If skiers find themselves in a situation where they collided with an object, let’s say a tree, the skier should evaluate himself first before moving especially if a branch pierced him.
If not and the skier feels fines, he can walk away with a few scratches or body pain. But head injuries are common in this kind of accident.
This can result in loss of consciousness, concussions, or other traumatic brain injuries.
3. Self-caused accidents
Most of the time, skiers will injure themselves because of sudden movements and reckless skiing.
They might’ve wanted to try a cool trick they saw, went too fast down the slope, or stayed too long out in the snow.
There are a lot of physical injuries that can result in this depending on the situation. Here are some of them:
Medial Collateral Ligament Tear
This ligament is located inside of the knee which prevents it from fully bending inwards.
Cold weather alone can be bad for your knees and staying outside on the slope during a drastic temperature drop is not a good idea.
If an MCL tear occurs to you, you will experience severe pain, bruising, and swelling. Standing up will be painful too.
This is one of the most common sports injuries especially if it involves sudden movements or maneuvering.
If you suddenly turned while skiing, this can potentially cause an ACL rupture (anterior cruciate ligament).
Staying in control of your speed is important as it takes physical therapy and possibly even surgery to fully heal your ACL.
You might injure your shoulder depending on the way that you fall.
This is extremely painful especially if your shoulder is popped out of its socket or the bone actually fractures.
To avoid this, you should try to fall back to your bottom.
Like shoulder injuries, you can also fracture your wrists when you fall down improperly.
Putting the pressure from your body weight to your wrists can damage the ligament.
So when you fall, don’t put your hand onto the snow to try to break the fall.
Safety tips to prevent skiing injuries
Now you know the risks and injuries that you might get while skiing, the good news is, you can totally prevent these things from happening.
Here are some safety tips that you should observe while skiing or snowboarding:
Wear proper skiing gear
This goes without saying that you should always wear the proper gear whatever the sport or activity you’re going to do.
Good skiing gear should keep you warm and safe. Most importantly, don’t forget to wear a helmet.
NSAA has stated that using a helmet while skiing reduces your chance of having any kind of head injury by 30% to 50%.
Get a helmet that fits you. If you’re uncomfortable, chances are your helmet is too big or too small.
Check your equipment
Always make sure that your ski equipment is in the right condition especially if it is stored for a long time.
Your ski blades should hold your weight comfortably without the risk of breaking mid-ski.
Also, check your ski bindings if it works properly.
A working ski binding will help you minimize ski injuries.
Always stay in control
Most of the accidents occur when skiers are reckless.
If you’re a beginner, don’t go any faster than you’re comfortable doing.
If you’re an average to an above-average skier, don’t be too confident in going down at high speeds until you can’t control yourself as you might endanger yourself and the others.
This is also applicable in skiing above your ability level.
There’s no shame in sticking to the bunny slope until you’ve practiced enough.
You’ll only increase the risk of you getting injured and possibly even others.
Stay in the right direction
The rule of thumb in skiing is that the person in front of you is going in the right direction. Just like driving, you have to follow the flow of traffic.
Don’t go the opposite way as you might cause a collision with other skiers who are going downhill.
Don’t just stop in the middle of the slope
A big no-no is suddenly stopping in the middle of the slope and staying there. It’s like standing in the middle of the road in busy traffic.
If you do need to stop, go to the side and gradually lower your speed until you’ve come to a full stop. Always remember to keep out of the way!
Observe signs and warnings
This cannot be stressed enough.
No one knows the terrains and their condition other than ski resort management so always observe signs and warnings.
This also goes for keeping off closed trails as it deemed unsafe for skiers to use.
Give yourself a break
While skiing is fun and all, take some rest in between skiing.
Fatigue can slow down your reaction time and alertness — things that are crucial to help you avoid or minimize skiing injuries.
There’s nothing better about wintertime than heading to the slopes and spending the day riding down them.
But, if you want to make sure that you’ll be able to do the same for many days to come, then you should keep in mind the tips above.
How common are skiing deaths?
According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), there is an average of 38 people each year in the US that dies when skiing/snowboarding.
Is skiing the most dangerous sport?
No, skiing is not considered a dangerous sport. There are about 200 million skiers and thankful enough, fatal accidents are not very common. There are about two injuries for every 1000 ski days.
Fatality is very rare and when looking at the numbers you can find that there are only about 0.71 deaths per million ski days.
Is skiing safer than driving?
Yes, the short and simple answer is that skiing is safer than driving a car.
What is the most common injury in skiing?
Here are the 5 most common injuries when skiing.
- Banging your head
- Ligament tear
- ACL tear or rapture
- Wrist fracture
- Should injuries