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Over the past three decades, snowboarding has become an increasingly popular winter sport, growing to the point that it was included in the Winter Olympic Games for the first time in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. In 2018, it was estimated that there were 2.2 million active snowboarders in the United States. As snowboarding injury statistics show, however, there is also a significant risk of injury.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, sprains and fractures are the most common snowboarding injuries, followed by contusion, lacerations, dislocations and concussions. Novice snowboarders are the most at risk for injuries to the wrists, accounting for 30% of injuries, as they attempt to break the frequent falls that come with learning the sport. Intermediate snowboarders are more at risk for knee and ankle injuries (resulting in 28% and 17% of injuries, respectively) as they start to attempt more complicated stunts. Expert snowboarders are most at risk for shoulder or collarbone injuries, which amount to 14% of all snowboarding injuries.
The NCBI also found that 73% of lower-extremity injuries among snowboarders occur on the lead-foot side. Backward falls account for 73% of wrist injuries, while 67% of knee injuries occur during forward falls, and 8% of all injuries occur while getting on or off a ski lift.
Most Common Ski Injury
By comparison, fewer skiers are attempting tricks, but they are still risking injury on the slopes. Maintaining speed and balance on skis can be difficult, even for the most experienced riders.
Like snowboarders, injuries to the head, wrists and shoulders are common among skiers. Perhaps the area where the most damage can occur, however, is the knees. The design of boots, bindings and skis changed in the 1970s to prevent leg fractures, but these changes ended up putting more strain on the knee joint itself.
Common ski knee injuries include:
- Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial cruciate ligament (MCL).
- Tearing of the meniscus, the cartilage in the knee that cushions between the shin bone and the thigh bone.
- Broken kneecaps.
- Tearing of the gastrocnemius, the large calf muscle that crosses the back of the knee.
Are There More Injuries Skiing or Snowboarding?
At a glance, the only difference between skiing and snowboarding might seem like the number of planks strapped to your feet. However, as snowboarding injury statistics show, the injuries that participants in each activity suffer can vary in frequency and in severity. In general, snowboarders are injured more frequently, but the injuries that skiers suffer are typically more severe.
Studies have shown that, on average, skiers suffer three injuries for every 1,000 skiing days, whereas snowboarders suffer anywhere from four to sixteen injuries per 1,000 days. Snowboarding injuries also occur more frequently in terrain parks, as snowboarders attempt more tricks and jumps.
In contrast, there are more fatal incidents among skiers as compared to snowboarders. It’s estimated that 41 people are killed on average across a total of 51 million skiing days per year in the United States. This is generally attributed to collisions with fixed objects at a high velocity. In a snowboard crash, the edge of the snowboard can act like a brake against the snow, cutting the momentum prior to impact, and lessening the severity of injuries.
Taken in context with other leisure activities, however, both skiing and snowboarding are statistically safer than most sports, and even safer than many other everyday activities. For example, the number of skiing deaths in the U.S. is far less than the number of pedestrians killed each year (5,300) or the number of people who drown in public swimming areas (2,400).
Can You Sue a Ski Resort?
If you are injured while skiing or snowboarding, your legal options may be limited. By participating in these sports, skiers and snowboarders are voluntarily assuming risks – either expressly by signing a waiver (which most resorts have people agree to before entering the property), or implicitly by assessing the conditions and proceeding anyway.
For a lawsuit stemming from winter sports injuries to succeed, there must be evidence that the resort was negligent in fulfilling their duty of care to their guests. This includes removing obstacles, maintaining and repairing ski lifts and ensuring the safe condition of rental equipment.
Alternatively, if the injured party can prove that their equipment was defective, or if the injury was caused by another guest’s dangerous or reckless behavior, there may be other avenues for legal recourse. Consulting with an experienced personal injury firm like Avrek Law, for example, can help you decide if additional legal avenues are worth pursuing.
Tips for Winter Sports Injury Prevention
- Wear wrist guards above your gloves to absorb impact and prevent fractures.
- Wear “impact shorts” with padding around the hips and buttocks to absorb impact from falls.
- Ensure your ski bindings’ release value is properly set to match your body weight and experience level. If your skis release properly, it can prevent lower-leg injuries.
- Warm up and stretch your muscles for at least five minutes before your first run of the day.
For both skiers and snowboarders:
- Improve your physical fitness, especially your leg muscle strength. Both skiing and snowboarding require stamina, and fatigue can lead to injuries.
- Learn to control your speed and to stop before you take on more challenging terrain.
- Never stop in areas where others can’t see you, like near trees or below the crest of a hill.
- Wear a helmet to reduce your risk of head injuries.
- Don’t veer off manicured runs. Fine powder snow can be deceptively deep and collapse without warning.
Contacting a Snowboarding or Ski Injury Lawyer
Avrek Law is here to help you understand your legal options when it comes to winter sports injuries. The consultation is free, and you’ll receive expert advice from a law firm with over $1 billion recovered in over 25,000 cases. View our locations and contact Avrek Law for a free injury consultation – we want to hear more about your case!