Background There are no recent data regarding injury risk among elite athletes in the Nordic skiing disciplines and Telemark skiing.
Objective To describe the injury rate in World Cup (WC) ski jumping, cross-country and Telemark skiing.
Design/Setting Athletes from selected WC teams (Continental Cup for ski jumping women) were interviewed towards the end of two consecutive winter seasons regarding acute injuries sustained during the competitive seasons. A methodological study has shown retrospective interviews to give the most complete picture for WC athletes. Ski jumpers were also asked if they had had a serious knee injury (absence >28 days) during the last four seasons. Exposure data were extracted from the official database of the International Ski Federation as the number of jumps, kilometres and runs performed and used to calculate the incidence for acute injuries in WC competitions.
Results Among 973 athletes, 50 acute injuries were reported in WC competitions (23 time-loss injuries). In ski jumping there were 0.6 (95% CI 0 to 1.4) and 0.4 (0–1.2) time-loss injuries per 1000 jumps in males and females, respectively. In cross-country skiing there were 0.2 (0–0.3) and 0.1 (0–0.2) injuries per 1000 km skied and in Telemark skiing 3.0 (0.8–5.1) and 5.5 (1.4–9.6) injuries per 1000 runs for males and females, respectively. In ski jumping, 3.9% of the female and 2.0% of the male athletes had sustained a severe knee injury during the previous 4 years, most of these were during ski jumping activity.
Conclusion There are few injuries and a low injury risk in the Nordic disciplines. Telemark skiing also has a low incidence, comparable to slalom which has the lowest risk among the alpine skiing disciplines. Although the injury incidence is low in ski jumping, we found that severe knee injuries occur at about the same frequency as in team handball and football.
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