Myself and many skiers and snowboarders are headed to the hills seeking the rush they get and a great day in as much powder as possible. Most of them will have a great time, but some will be injured.
According to Dr. Sterett, the Head Team Physician of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, about 60 people are injured on the mountain every day in Vail, Colorado. Regardless of skier level (beginners to advanced) about 43% will have an injury to their knee, followed by shoulders at 12% and then thumbs at 8%. Certainly, some of the injuries are move serious than others ranging from bumps and bruises from falling to more serious maladies that lead to surgery.
Snowboarders are different, and not just in personality.
Beginners are more likely to get hurt and it’s mostly in their upper extremities (hands and arms). They will come off the mountain in pain 18% of the time for wrist injuries and 14% for their shoulders. Slightly less frequently are knees and ankles at 13%, respectively, each. Likely, the reduced incidence has to do with how the equipment differs. Legs stay attached to a snowboard and are not released as they are from the bindings of skiers, and that can force the “shredders” to fall on their upper body where their wrists, arms and shoulders can take the brunt of a fall. Icy conditions, age, flat light, aggressive styles and certainly the draw to terrain parks can greatly influence the incident of injuries.
Interesting to note is that I’m seeing more snow bikes, trick skis and snow skates recently. With safe instruction, hopefully we can reduce the incidence of potential injuries.
Get out to rip it up, shred, ski, bike and enjoy the snow, but be safe and stay within your abilities on the mountains!