Head/spine injury in the making. photo: robertxgillis.com
It’s seems obvious that skiing and riding has become more dangerous in recent years. Just pop in one of the latest ski movies. Even the recreational skier is skiing/riding faster, taking more air, and accepting more risk on the mountain. This increase in the danger zone of skiing & riding has arrived in the form of more traumatic injuries (ie head and spine injuries). A lot of this increased danger is directly related to the ridiculously high level of skiing and riding in America.
I just found this article from medpagetoday.com from December 4th, 2007 that gives some eye-brow-raising numbers. All numbers displayed below are from the afore mentioned article and the studies that it references unless otherwise denoted. Please refer to the medpagetoday.com article for more information and for study sources.
The Govenator after breaking his leg skiing in California in 2006. photo: dailymail.co.uk
Skiing/Riding Injury Statistics:
– Traumatic brain injury rose from 12% to 15% for skiers from 1992-97
– Traumatic brain injury cases per year rose from 1,000/year to 5,2000/year in snowboarders from 1992-97
– Spinal cord injury rose 130% for children and 407% for adolescents between the 1972/72 season & 1993/94 season
– Head injuries account for 28% of all skier injuries and 33.5% of all snowboarder injuries
– from 1996 to 2006 there were 38 deaths from skiing/riding per year on average in the USA –nsaa.org
– In 2004/5 there were 45 deaths: 39 were male & 6 were female – 30 were skiers & 15 were snowboarders –nsaa.org
– Fatalities are predominantly male (85 percent) from their late teens to late 30s (70 percent) –nsaa.org
Head injury from skiing and resulting pins and bolts from surgery. photo: ski-injury.com
Snowboarders More Susceptible to Head Injury Than Skiers:
These studies consistently reported that snowboarders were more likely to sustain serious head or spinal injuries than skiers.
One U.S. study suggested that the odds were 66% higher for all types of injury (P=0.05) whereas a Norwegian study put the odds even higher at three- to fourfold. A Canadian study found a 50% increase in head and neck injury risk for snowboarders compared with skiers. –medpagetoday.com
Snowboard faceplant. photo: laundrylist4212.com
Snowboarders Get Hurt More Than Any Other Outdoor Athlete Type:
More people are hurt snowboarding than any other outdoor activity, accounting for a quarter of emergency room visits, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. – calsafety.org
Men More Likely to Get Head Injuries Than Women:
Head injuries were 2.2 times more common among men than women in one study. In a study from Japan, men accounted for 63% of all snowboard injuries and 51% of all ski injuries. –medpagetoday.com
Helmets Reduce Risk of Head Injury 22% to 60%:
Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 22% to 60%. –medpagetoday.com
This is your brain on pavement, this is your brain in a helmet on pavement. photo: cozybeehive.com
What is the Reason for This Rise in Injuries?
The occurrence rate of both spinal cord and traumatic brain injury appears to be increasing worldwide because of higher speeds and more jumps and acrobatics leading to more falls and collisions, found Charles H. Tator, M.D., Ph.D., of Toronto Western Hospital here, and colleagues. –medpagetoday.com
Julian Carr going huge at Snowbird Freeskiing World Tour Stop. photo: will wissman thelevitationproject.com
Powder is Safer to Ski/Ride in:
The study also showed that risk was 2.5 times higher on ungroomed and rough snow than on soft snow. –medpagetoday.com
Chris Fletcher safe in deep powder. photo: fall-line.co.uk
I suppose there really isn’t anything to get freaked out about here. With an increase in difficulty comes an increase in injury and skierd/riders have never pushed it so far before. As I stated earlier, just watch the latest ski movies and you’ll realize that if any of those stunts go wrong, and they do, there will be some high consequences. Hell, just come to Squaw on a powder day and watch the local boys throw down and get thrown down all morning long and you’ll see both sides of the story. There is one take-away here, however and it’s to wear a helmet everyday.