SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2003

Lower Extremity Injuries Involving Traditional Alpine Skis versus Short Skis with Non-release Bindings


This study was developed to evaluate the relative incidence of lower leg and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in two skier populations: traditional Alpine skiers and skiboarders. Skiboards are short skis usually less than 100 cm with non-releasable bindings.

The authors evaluated injured snow sports participants in a clinic at Sugarbush ski area in Vermont. The study analyzed four seasons (1997/1998 – 2000/2001) using a casecontrol design.

A total of 34 skiboard-related injuries and 1720 injuries related to conventional skiing were evaluated. Approximately 2.2% of the population used skiboards. Although overall the risk of injury for skiboarders was nearly the same as for conventional skiers, skiboarders sustained significantly higher incidences of ankle and tibia shaft fractures than other Alpine skiers (p< 0.000001). Severe ACL injuries occurred to 19.7% (339) of the Alpine skiers and 0% (0) of skiboarders, making the risk of ACL injury among skiboarders low in comparison to conventional skiers (p< 0.000001).

The authors' analysis strongly implies that the unacceptably high risk of lower leg injury associated with skiboarding is due to the use of non-release bindings. The fact that ACL injury to skiboarders was not higher than for conventional skiers another of the authors' previous conclusion that binding function is not related to the production of ACL injuries in skiing. The fact that the incidence of ACL injury to skiboarders was much lower than for conventional skiers supports another of the authors' previous conclusions that the tail of the Alpine ski, which is largely missing in skiboards, creates a unique lever system (“Phantom Foot”) capable of applying unusual loads to the knee.

Author Information

Johnson, RJ
University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Ettlinger, CF
Vermont Ski Safety Inc., Underhill Center, VT
Shealy, JE
Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
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Developed by Committee: F27
Pages: 105–112
DOI: 10.1520/STP10964S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5484-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-3462-1