AND in case anyone wants to challenge where I get my REAL statistics rather than making up facts and then arguing them.... I highlighted key points.Safety & EducationFacts About Skiing/Snowboarding Safety
Updated December 2004IntroductionSkiing and snowboarding are no more dangerous than other high-energy participation sports, and less so than some common activities.
However, they are challenging and require physical skills that are only learned over time with practice. The sports involve some inherent risk, but in some measure, it is that risk that entices most skiers and riders to pursue the sport.Statistics on skiing/snowboarding
Fatalities - According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA): During the past 10 years, about 39 people have died skiing/snowboarding per year on average. During the 2003-2004 season, 41 fatalities occurred out of the 57.1 million skier/snowboarder days
reported for the season. Thirty-one of the fatalities were skiers (21 male, 10 female) and ten of the fatalities were snowboarders (all male). The rate of fatality was .72 per million skier/snowboarder visits.
Note: A skier/snowboarder visit represents one person visiting a ski area for all or any part of a day or night and includes full-day, half-day, night, complimentary, adult, child, season and any other ticket types that gives one the use of an area's facility.
The National Sporting Goods Association reports in 2003 there were 6.8 million skiers and 6.3 million snowboarders. According to NSGA, 11.4 percent of snowboarders also ski, and conversely, 12.3 percent of skiers also snowboard. Therefore, the total on-slope participants were calculated at 11.3 million. (11.4 percent of 6.3 million snowboarders = 718,200. 6.3 million minus 718,200 = 5.6 million snowboarders. 12.3 percent of 6.8 million skiers = 836,400. 6.8 million minus 836,400 = 6.0 million skiers. These figures equal a total of 11.6 million on-slope participants). Using NSGA's 11.6 million on-slope participants, the per-participant skier/snowboarder fatality rate in 2003 equates to 3.53 per 1 million on-slope participants. Note: NSGA estimates the number of participants in various sports, age 7-plus each calendar year.
Serious Injuries - Serious injuries (paraplegics, serious head and other serious injuries) occur at the rate of about 41 per year,
according to the NSAA. In the 2003-04 season, there were 37 serious injuries. Nineteen of these serious injuries were skiers (16 males, 3 females) and 18 were snowboarders (16 males, 2 females).
The rate of serious injury in 2003-04 was .65 per million skier/snowboarder visits.Comparative statistics to other sports
Death rates experienced in different activities are sometimes difficult to compare because of different ways of expressing exposure to risk. Below skiing/snowboarding fatalities per million are presented based on "visits" (can be referred to as days of participation) and by participants. Drowning due to swimming and fatalities related to bicycling are also listed below.
- 2003 number of fatalities* 41
- Number of participants (in millions)** 11.6
- Fatalities per million participants 3.53
- Days of participation (in millions)* 57.1
- Fatalities per days of participation rate (per million) .72
- 2003 number of fatalities*** 2,100 (Drowning: Includes drownings of person swimming or playing in water, or falling into water, except on home premises or at work. Excludes drownings involving boats, which are in water transportation)
- 2003 Number of participants (in millions)** 47
- Fatalities per million participants 44
- Days of participation (in millions)** 1973
- Fatalities per days of participation rate (per million) 1.06
Bicycling (resulting from collisions with motor vehicles-additional bicycling-related deaths, such as collisions with other bicyclists in 1998 was 120.)
- 2003 number of fatalities*** 700
- Number of participants (in millions)** 36.3
- Fatalities per million participants 19.3
- Days of participation (in millions)** 2,138.5
- By days of participation rate (per million) .33
* National Ski Areas Association
** National Sporting Goods Association (Sports Participation, 2003 edition)
***National Safety Council (Injury Facts, 2002 and 2003 editions)
**** Divers Alert Network, North Carolina
Note: The "participant per million" rate is calculated by dividing the number of fatalities by the number of participants. The "days of participation" rate is calculated by dividing the number of fatalities by the days of participation. An Additional PerspectiveAlthough there is no statistical significance to the following, it helps to offer a perspective: The National Safety Council (Injury Facts, 2004 Edition) points out: 44,800 Americans died in automobile accidents (2003); 5,600 pedestrians were killed (2003); 5,600 died from falls from one level to another or on the same level (excludes falls in or from transport vehicles or while boarding them) (2003); 2,600 died from poisoning by solids and liquids, gases and vapors (2003); 43 died from lightning (2003); and 55 died from tornadoes (2003).Frequently Asked QuestionsIs the number of ski injuries increasing?
The overall rate of reported skiing injuries has declined by 50 percent since the early 1970s, according to Jasper Shealy, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., who has studied ski-related injuries for more than 30 years. The once feared broken lower leg from skiing is now a thing of the past, declining more than 95 percent since the early 1970s. The overall rate of reported alpine ski injuries as of the year 2000 remains essentially the same as 10 years ago-2.63 reported injuries per 1,000 skier visits. To only look at the overall number, or rate, of injuries does not tell the whole story. In research that was reported on at the International Society for Skiing Safety Congress in May of 2003, it was noted that in the last three to five years, the rate of serious knee injuries was finally starting to decline; unfortunately the number of mid-shaft tibal fractures was increasing after having declined dramatically from 1970 through the mid 1980s. The reason for the decline in serious knee injuries is believed to be due to the market penetration of the newer shorter skis. The reason for the increase in mid-shaft tibial fractures appears to be due to a decline in the functional properties of the ski-binding-boot systems.Have snowboard injuries increased?
The rate for snowboarding has increased from to 6.97 from 3.37 per 1,000 visits from 10 years ago, according to Dr. Shealy.Has the rate of some ski injuries changed?
The most significant upward trend in ski injuries since the early 1970s, according to a study by the University of Vermont Department of Orthopedics, was in ACL injuries, or injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knees, which crosses the knee at a diagonal angle underneath the kneecap. The increase in serious knee injuries, especially ACL injuries, has reversed itself in the last three to five years. This welcome decrease is on the order of 30 to 35% so far. We believe that this decrease is due to the recent introduction of significantly shorter skis, which have shorter tails, and are thus less prone to the dreaded Phantom Foot Syndrome. Unfortunately, at the same time that knee injuries are starting to decline, we are now seeing an increase in both mid-shaft tibial fractures and injuries due to inadvertent releases, many of which would be preventable if skiers were more attentive to taking their skis into a qualified ski shop for an annual inspection and readjustment as needed. Who gets fatally injured while skiing and snowboarding?Most fatalities occur in the same population that engages in high-risk behavior. Victims are predominantly male (85 percent) from their late teens to late 30s (70 percent), according to Dr. Shealy. Less than 10% of fatally injured skiers and snowboarders are under 10 or over 50 years of age, but more than 16% of all skiers and snowboarders are in these age groups. Most of those fatally injured are usually above-average skiers and snowboarders who are going at high rates of speed on the margins of intermediate trails.
This is the same population that suffers the majority of unintentional deaths from injury. For example, in 1995 this population suffered 74 percent of fatal car accidents and 85 percent of all industrial accidents, Dr. Shealy reports. Males comprise about 60 percent of skiing participants, and more than 75% of snowboarding participants. Snowboarders don't appear to be making the slopes less safe for their skiing peers, either, says Dr. Shealy. A study presented at the Ninth International Symposium on Skiing Trauma and Safety in 1993 indicated that 7.7 percent of all ski injuries are the result of skiers running into skiers, while only 2.6 percent of snowboard accidents are caused this way