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The introduction of eight-seat chairlifts has raised the concern of increased risk of collision, falling, and possibly injury while unloading due to the greater number of passengers. This study aimed to investigate: if there was a difference in the fall rate between skiers and snowboarders; if seat position on an eight-seat chairlift affected whether passengers fell or not; and if the time of day or day of the weekend affected whether passengers fell or not. Video was used to record passengers' equipment, seat position, and whether passengers fell or not. 1103 chairs were observed carrying 7293 passengers, of which 4551 (62 %) were skiers and 2742 (38 %) were snowboarders. 877 (12 %) passengers fell while unloading from the chairlift, with a significant difference between 133 skier falls (15 %) and 744 snowboarder falls (85 %) (p= 0.0005). Ski patrol was not required to attend any injuries. There was a significant relationship between seat position and whether passengers fell or not (p=0.02) with fewer falls than expected from seats 3, 4, and 5 and more falls than expected from seats 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8. There was a significant association between time of day/day of the weekend and whether passengers fell or not (p = 0.001) with more falls than expected during the Saturday morning and afternoon sessions, and less falls than expected during the Sunday midday session. Conclusions: The high fall rate, particularly of snowboarders, is of concern due to the potential for injury. Equipment, rather than seat position, had the greatest effect on whether passengers fell or not. The significant association between time of day/day of the weekend and whether passengers fell or not suggests that practice over a single weekend was associated with a significantly reduced risk of falling.
chairlift, unloading, snowboarding, skiing, snow sports injury
Whelan, Karyn M.
MAPA Lecturer-Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW
Physiotherapist, Sydney, NSW