Background The implementation of an optimal injury prevention program is based primarily on a solid epidemiological injury surveillance system. Current epidemiological studies in skiing disciplines of International Skiing Federation are limited to retrospective surveys only on winter competitive season (WCS).
Objective The aim of this study was to determine the pattern of injuries in elite athletes of French Ski Federation (FFS) during the winter competitive season and the summer off-season (SOS).
Design Two-year prospective cohort study.
Setting and participants Data of two complete seasons, from 1 May 2017 to 31 April 2018, within elite athletes of FFS (alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, biathlon and crosscountry skiing) were recorded. WCS and SOS were defined from 1 November to 31 April, and from 1 May to 31 October respectively.
Main Outcome Measurements Injury was defined as any physical complaint during training or competition. Each injury was further categorised by location, mechanism, structure, severity and circumstances. Diagnoses were provided by the team doctor according to Orchard Sports Injury Classification.
Results During the study period (2017–2019), 647 skiers-season, 421 (65.1%) males and 226 (34.9%) females, were covered. In total, 352 injuries were recorded. Of theses 235 (66.8%) injuries occurred during WCS and 117 (26.4%) during SOS. The higher absolute injury incidences were 110.1 (88.2–135.8) injuries per 100 athletes per seasons in snowboarding, 84.7 (66.3–106.7) in freestyle skiing and 51.6 (43.1–61.1) in alpine skiing. In our sample, 145 (41.2%) of injuries were severe (>28 days of absence). The most frequent injury localisations were knee (20.7%), ankle (16.8%) and head/face (11.9%). Joint/ligament injuries represented 46% of all injuries. Over the study period, 34 concussions and 1 death were recorded.
Conclusions Recording elite athlete injuries only during the competition period is not sufficient. To not record summer off-season injuries among elite FFS athletes would result in more than 25% of injuries being missed and would hinder the implementation of an optimal preventive policy.
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