Objectives: To examine the incidence and patterns of snow sports injuries at the three largest commercial ski areas in Scotland and to identify factors associated with injury risk.
Methods: A prospective case-control study of all injured people at Cairngorm, Glenshee, and Nevis Range ski areas during the 1999–2000 winter season. Personal details, snow sports related variables, diagnosis, and treatment were recorded. Control data were collected at random from uninjured people at all three areas. Random counts were performed to analyse the composition of the on slope population.
Results: A total of 732 injuries were recorded in 674 people. Control data were collected from 336 people. The injury rate for the study was 3.7 injuries per 1000 skier days. Alpine skiers comprised 67% of the on slope population, snowboarders 26%, skiboarders 4%, and telemark skiers 2%. Lower limb injuries and sprains were the commonest injuries in alpine skiers and skiboarders. Snowboarders sustained more injuries to the upper limb and axial areas. Skiboarders and snowboarders had a higher incidence of fractures. After adjustment for other variables, three factors were all independently associated with injury: snowboarding (odds ratio (OR) 4.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.65 to 10.08), alpine skiing (OR 3.82, CI 1.6 to 9.13), and age <16 years (OR 1.9, CI 1.14 to 3.17). More than five days of experience in the current season and at least one week of experience in total had a protective effect against injury.
Conclusions: Despite a change in the composition of the alpine population at Scottish ski areas, the overall rate and pattern of injury are similar to those reported previously in comparable studies. Several factors are associated with an increased risk of injury and should be targeted in future injury prevention campaigns.
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Conflict of interest: ML has received honoraria from Smith Kline Beecham for participating in evening meetings on the subject of snow sport injuries and financial assistance from Novartis to attend a conference on ski injuries.