“When you’ve been skiing for 15 years, it’s easy to forget that the dangers are the same every day you ski and every time you take a run.” -Chris Linsmayer
The Coloradoan examined the annual safety report by the National Ski Areas Association and found that average person who died skiing on a U.S. ski resort during the 2015/2016 season was, “30-something experienced male skier wearing a helmet who hit a tree going too fast on an intermediate run.”
Although it may seem counterintuitive, there some common sense conclusions to be drawn about experienced skier being statistically more likely to die on the slopes.
Beginners tend to be more risk averse and stick to mellow runs and are less likely achieve speeds where collisions are fatal, while advanced skiers are comfortable going faster on more challenging runs where a loss of control can result in death.
“Beginners on green runs tend to be more cautious. It’s when you get on the blue runs with a mix of abilities and speeds that things become less controlled.” Jasper Shealy Ski Safety Trend Analyst
Dave Byrd Director of NSAA Risk and Regulatory Affairs echoed Shealy’s sentiment:
“If you think about it, experienced skiers are the ones who are pushing the boundaries. They are the ones skiing faster, skiing closer to the trees and in the trees, because that’s where the powder is.”
Ski industry officials and resort representatives have a simple mantra to reduce incidents of death while resort skiing: just slow down. David Byrd thinks of it this way: ” The safer I ski, the more days on the slopes I have ahead of me.”
While this all may be alarming, the data also shows ski fatalities happen at a rate less than 1 per 1 million ski visits:
“An average of 38 skier and snowboarder fatalities has occurred at U.S. ski areas in the last 10 years. Average skier/snowboarder visits during this same time period averaged 56.4 million. The 10-year fatality rate equates to 0.67 fatalities per million skier visits—again, well below one fatality per one million skier visits.”
Concluding thoughts: Ski terrain that matches your ability, always be aware of your surroundings, ski under control, and wear a helmet at all times.