Background In competitive alpine skiing, there is a controversy regarding the sex-related risk of injury.
Objective To compare the risk of injury in female versus male World Cup (WC) alpine skiers.
Methods Injuries were recorded through the International Ski Federation Injury Surveillance System for six consecutive winter seasons (2006–2012), based on retrospective interviews with athletes from 10 teams at the end of each season. All acute training and competition injuries which required medical attention were recorded. Race exposure was calculated based on the exact number of runs started in the WC for each of the interviewed athletes each season.
Results Men had a higher overall rate of injury (relative risk (RR) 1.24, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.47), as well as a higher rate of time-loss injury (RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.48) than women in training and competitions, expressed as injuries/100 athletes/season. These sex differences were even more pronounced during WC races (RR 1.58, 95% CI 1.22 to 2.04 and RR 1.72, 95% CI 1.29 to 2.31, for overall and time-loss injuries, respectively). There was no sex difference in the risk of knee/anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
Conclusions No previous studies from competitive skiing have reported a significantly higher risk of injuries in men than women. In contrast to recreational skiing and team sports, there was no sex difference in the risk of knee/ACL injuries and prevention efforts should be directed as much towards male as female competitive skiers.
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