Background The conduct of participants in snow sport depends on the knowledge of the existing rules. Accidents can be avoided if there is sufficient familiarity with the skier's code published by the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Objective We aimed to find out the knowledge of the FIS regulations, the intuitive behaviour in given situations and the general sense of security on ski slopes dependent on age, skiing ability and origin.
Design Prospective, randomly survey.
Setting recreational alpine skiers in 17 Tyrolean ski resorts.
Participants 1450 recreational skiers were interviewed. More than 95% agreed to answer the questionnaire.
Interventions Interviews were conducted during the winter season 2008/2009 assessing personal data, knowledge about existing rules and the general perception of safety.
Main outcome measurements The knowledge of existing rules on the ski slope.
Results A total of 75.0% were aware that rules exist, 33.9% knew that they are termed FIS-Rules. 10.7% thought that no rules exist on the ski slope and 14.3% had no opinion. Young skiers (p=0.000) and beginners (p=0.001) possessed the least knowledge whereas local residents (p=0.000) and experts evidenced the best knowledge. Several risk-carrying situations were assessed incorrectly by a high percentage. 29.8% think that stopping on the slope is possible without any restrictions and 22.1% assume that they have priority when moving upwards. A low skiing ability seems to have the biggest influence.
Conclusion The present study revealed that beginners, young skiers and non-local residents had insufficient knowledge. Ski resorts and schools should target these high-risk groups. Better awareness of the FIS-Rules is possible with media campaigns.