Background In recent years, discussions have arisen about the potential influence of wearing a ski helmet on an increasing level of risk taking and higher speeds on ski slopes.
Objective To evaluate factors associated with selfreported risk-taking behaviour in recreational skiers and snowboarders.
Methods Speeds of skiers and snowboarders were measured with a radar speed gun and sex, age, nationality, height, weight and helmet use, used type of gear, self-estimated skill level and self-estimated fitness level were recorded. In addition, participants were asked if they considered themselves as cautious or risk-taking skier or snowboarder.
Results In total, 453 skiers (39.6 (14.8) years) and 74 snowboarders (26.4 (9.6) years) have been interviewed. A stepwise forward logistic regression model revealed five independent factors for a risk-taking behaviour on slopes. Adjusted OR and their 95% CI showed that risk takers were <40 years (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.51 to 3.80), had a higher skill level (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.25 to 3.50), were more likely males (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.22 to 3.26), had a lower body mass index (22.8 vs 24.2) and skied with higher speeds (on average 53 vs 45 km/h) compared to cautious skiers.
Conclusion Risk-taking behaviour on ski slopes is associated with younger age, higher skiing ability, male sex, lower body mass index and on average higher speeds. Helmet use is not associated with riskier behaviour on slopes. In addition, helmet use has to be recommended because helmet use reduces the risk of head injuries among skiers and snowboarders.
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