The popularity of skiing has increased dramatically in the past century. Since its inception in the 1960s, snowboarding has become increasingly popular as well. In fact, almost 40 percent of all “sliding snow” sports participants today are snowboarders.
Skiing and snowboarding are both wonderful sports. As with most any physical activity, however, there is an element of risk. By following some basic guidelines and learning more about the risks, it is possible to decrease those risks. Remembering the following information can minimize your risks and allow more fun on the slopes.
HOW DO SKIERS/SNOWBOARDERS GET HURT?
Many variables affect injury rates in skiers, most commonly ability, age, gender, physical conditioning and snow conditions. Beginners have three times the injury rate of experts, but their injuries are less severe. Experts have less frequent but more severe injuries (head injuries, fractures and high grade ligament sprains). This is probably due to their higher speed on the ski slope. Intermediate skiers fall somewhere in-between.
Another key factor is age. The highest injury rate is among 11 to 13 year olds. Their ability is intermediate, but their judgment is not as good as adults’. Injures in teenagers (13 to 20 year olds) are slightly less frequent, but more severe. Many have the skill levels of adults with immature judgment. Finally, children younger than 12 years old have twice the injury rate of adults, but fewer than that of adolescents.
Females have twice the injury rate of males, which is thought to stem from conditioning. One study looking at female ski racers found that their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury rate was six times that of their male counterparts.
SNOWBOARDING INJURY TRENDS
Snowboarding has a slightly higher potential for upper extremity injuries, but it may be safer on the knees. There is an increased rate of foot and ankle injuries associated with snowboarding. The lead foot has twice the number of injuries than the back foot. One study showed that the hybrid or “mid-stiff- ness” boots were the safest style of boots. There may be more high-energy injuries such as femur fractures, high- speed injuries and injuries caused by getting big air.