Downhill Skiing, Snowboarding and Snow Tubing Injuries at a Small Ski Area in the Upper Midwest
Background: Downhill skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing are popular recreational activities for adults and children in the winter. However, there is an inherent risk of injury when participating in these activities. The majority of published research has described winter sport injuries that have occurred at major ski areas. Purpose: This study identified injury occurrence and trends among winter sports participants at a small ski area (SSA) in the Upper Midwest. Study design: Multi-year, retrospective study. Methods: Injury reports compiled over eight seasons (2006-14) by National Ski Patrol staff at this SSA were examined. Results: There were 1,200 reports that met the inclusion criteria. The average age of injured SSA guests was 16.0 ± (7.7) y, while the ratio of injured male to female guests was 2.2:1. Experience level was documented in 1,035 injury reports (86%), among which 46% of guests classified themselves as novices/beginners. Conclusion: Injuries were more likely to occur in the evening. Fractures, sprains/strains, bruises and concussions were the most common type of injury among all guests. Snowboarding accounted for the greatest number of overall injuries; though a disproportionately higher number of injuries, based on estimated use, occurred at the SSA's terrain park. Injury rates were reduced throughout the study period, dropping from 5.02 injuries/1,000 guests in 2006-07 to 2.64 injuries/1,000 guests in 2013-2014. Clinical relevance: Knowledge of snow sport injury characteristics at SSAs may help management, National Ski Patrol (NSP) members and sports medicine professionals create staffing plans and emergency procedures that best protect the health and safety of their snow sport guests.