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Winter Sport Safety

As the snow falls, skiing and snowboarding season begins and with these winter sports also comes great danger and responsibility. There are dangers besides the icy roads and potholes. Winter enthusiasts typically enjoy skiing and snowboarding because of the enticing thrill and risk that coincides with the sport. Skiing and snowboarding require skill and experience that can take years to acquire. While acquiring these skills, misjudging your skill level can lead to collisions and injuries. However, based on technology and new safety measures, injuries and collisions have drastically decreased over the past few decades.

Skiing and snowboarding roughly result in 50 serious injuries and 54 deaths annually. Considering that most people only engage in winter sports over two months out of the year,it’s crucial to be aware of safety precautions. Most fatalities and injuries occur in the population of people who engage in high-risk behavior. On average, the victims are predominantly males in their late teen to early 30s.

Avoiding Injury and Staying Safe

However, since 1970, the injuries and collisions have decreased by 50%. Newer, shorter skis may contribute to more safety and less accidents. If you still own the older, longer skis, it may be time to trade them in for the safer option. In fact, many ski reports do not allow skiiers to purchase or rent the longer skis due to the unsafe conditions they impose.

In case you are faced with a potential collision, the National Ski Area Association states that the best way to avoid a collision is to follow the steps of Your Responsibility Code including:

  • stay in control,
  • stop in a safe place for you and others, and
  • when starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.

It is also important to obey signs designating slow zones and intersecting areas. It is recommended that all skiers and snowboarders share the slopes and always show respect for others.

Skis – Winter Sport SafetyMany people believe that the cause of most ski-related injuries is due to the lack of people wearing helmets. This is not the case. Recent research has shown that the use of helmet reduces the incidence of any head injury by 30 to 50 percent, but that the decrease in head injuries is generally limited to less serious injuries. There has been no significant reduction in fatalities over the past nine seasons even as the use of helmets overall has increased. This trend emphasizes the importance of not increasing risk-taking behavior simply because you are wearing a helmet. Skiing and riding in control is essential in improving slope safety and reducing fatalities.

Winter Sport Liability

If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident, each state has adopted their own laws pertaining to liability at ski resorts. Most states have made it nearly impossible for a patron at a ski resort to sue the resort for injuries arising out of the inherent risk associated with winter sports. These laws only cover injuries that are considered to be inherent dangers associated with skiing or snowboarding. If, for example, the ski lift were to malfunction and or a piece of equipment is improperly stored causes an accident then that will not be covered. Additionally, in the event that another skier has acted negligently and an injury occurred that person might potentially be sued.

Stay warm, enjoy the slopes – but be safe as you enjoy your winter sports!

R.F. Wittmeyer

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