To welcome in the New Year, let's give thanks to our health and ability to continue skiing by reminiscing about close calls that we have had.
Mine is extremely weak, so don't get your hopes up :)
Over 30 years of skiing now, grew up skiing on Mont Tremblant when I was roughly 4 years old, and luckily have not had any catastrophic injuries (yet). Scariest thing that happened to me was really completely unexpected and nobody would have believed would lead to injury.
I was skiing in the alps. It was about 8:30am, the part of the mountain I was skiing on was absolutely empty. I mean, literally, as far as I could see in any direction, I did not see a single skier. 10-15 minutes would pass, and not a single soul would go by. We had a big snow flurry the day before, so I expected the snow to be good. But I guess 8:30am is a bit early for the Europeans to be skiing.
I decided to start the day on an easy blue groomer. The snow is unexpectedly icy and hard. I'm also on rental boots mind you so the canting is completely off of what I'm used to. I see some really plush looking snow to my right, off-piste, so I decide to go check it out. My skinny skis don't like the powder but I'm managing just fine. Then things start getting really bumpy. My right ski gets dug in and gets caught. My bindings are too tight so my ski doesn't really come off. I go flying head first and I land (with absolutely crappy luck) on a completely flat, rock hard icy portion on my side.
Now I've fallen plenty skiing, but I've never gone flying and landed on something so flat and hard before. My body is in so much pain I can't even move. I landed directly on my left hip bone and my left arm is also twisted around. It took my about 5 minutes to be able to start getting up, and once I got up I realized I couldn't really use my left leg or my left arm. No help in sight, no ski patrol presence on the mountain unless I radio for help then they'll send a helicopter which will cost an arm and a leg. So it took me about 30 minutes of very gentle 1 legged skiing/hopping on one leg to get to the next chairlift, all the time without passing anybody who could have helped me out.
I finally made it to the lifts, took them down, and went to the hospital where I had a really badly bruised hip and surrounding tissue was damaged, and a dislocated shoulder. First day in a ski trip to the alps and I was already done and finished and couldn't ski the rest of the time I was there. This was 3 years ago, and I still have aches in my shoulder and hip from time to time.
I guess the most striking thing about the experience was how injuries can happen on seemingly easy and harmless terrain. And on the alps, you really get a scary feeling of abandonment since you have no active ski patrol presence and even on certain groomers you can find yourself alone and isolated for long periods of time. Sure my experience probably can't hold a candle to true backcountry skiirs around the world, but those guys know the risks and accept them. I had no idea that skiing on relatively easy terrain on marked pistes could be so dangerous.