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This study looks at trauma-related death rates and modalities of death between snowboarding and skiing. The snowboarding population is younger and has a higher percentage of males. Thus, based on the demographics of risk taking, one would expect the snowboarding fatality rate to be higher if the objective risk of death was the same between the two activities. This study spans the time period from 1991/92 to 1998/99 in the United States utilizing data generated by NSAA for both deaths and skier visit counts. The study specifically includes deaths occurring to recreational skiers and snowboarders who suffered an immediate traumatic death within the bounds of the patrolled ski area. Specifically excluded are deaths to employees, medical emergency deaths (i.e., cardiac arrest, etc.), and back country skiers. During this time there were a total of 426.4 million participant visits (MPV) and 285 fatalities to patrons of ski areas in the United States. Snowboarders accounted for 28 of the deaths (9.8%), and 257 were to skiers (90.2%). Snowboarders generated 61.5 MPV (14.4%), and skiers generated 365.9 MPV. The overall rate of snowboarding deaths (0.46 per MSV) is 35% lower than for alpine skiing (0.70 per MSV); conversely, the alpine skiing fatality rate is 54% higher than for snowboarding. The percent of deaths due to impact is higher for skiing than snowboarding, while the death rate for jumping and tree-well related deaths is higher for snowboarding than skiing.
downhill skiing, snowboarding, fatalities, modalities of death
Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
President, Vermont Ski Safety Equipment Inc., Underhill, VT
McClure Professor of Musculoskeletal Research, College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT