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This study analyzes the circumstances and influences that led to fatal skiing incidents in Austria between 1983 and 1986 (268 cases). Seventy-four skiers died by injuries during on-piste skiing, 17 died during off-piste skiing, and 99 died in avalanches. So called nontraumatic fatalities, mostly cardiac arrests, have been reported in 51 cases on piste, 11 cases off piste, and 34 during cross-country skiing.
The results show that more than two thirds of all deaths caused by injuries in on-piste skiing do not actually occur on the piste itself, but suddenly after the marked paths have been left. About half of all the fatal collisions occur by crashing into trees; fatal collisions between two skiers are very rare. Fatal accidents off piste are caused by falls over rocky areas and by avalanches. Although off-piste skiers starting from cable-car stations definitely outweigh the number of ski mountaineers, mountaineers suffer avalanche deaths much more frequently than the others. Contrary to common belief, incidents caused by cardiac arrest are extremely rare for both alpine and cross-country skiing.
These results may be useful in developing detailed safety precautions for skiers.
skiing accidents, skiing fatalities, sudden deaths in sports, avalanche accidents, cause of skiing accidents, prevention of skiing accidents
Universitatsdozent, Research of Skiing and Mountaineering Accidents, University of Salzburg, Kaprun,