SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2003

Femur and Tibial Plateau Fractures in Alpine Skiing


For the past 29 ski seasons, the authors have prospectively tracked skiing injuries at the Sugarbush resort in northern Vermont. This study updates two previous papers on femur and tibial plateau fracture (TPF) injuries in alpine skiing. We examined the etiology and biomechanics of the femur and tibial plateau fracture injury groups, and the demographics of the population at risk. Total skier visits equals 5 912 735, the total number of injuries equals 16 790; femur fractures equals 67, tibial plateau fractures equals 88.

Femur fractures: There has been no significant change in MDBI (Mean Days Between Injury) for femur fractures. No significant changes were found in skier demographics, or injury mechanism, from our previous study. Collisions with trees or other objects remain the principal mechanism of injury. Femur fractures are predominantly male injuries. Femur injured skiers are younger and lighter than the population at risk. Femur-injured skiers reported that they skied faster at the time of injury than those in the “all-other-injury” category.

Tibial plateau fractures: The exponentially regressed MDBI rate has significantly changed over time from 216 800 to 38 500, but this change coincides with a very significant increase in the age of the population at risk. At the same time, the mean age for this injury has not significantly changed. Tibial plateau injured skiers have the oldest mean ages for any injury group in our study. This is a predominantly female injury. The TPF injured person is heavier than those in the all-other-injury group in spite of being predominantly female but not significantly taller. Eighty-nine percent of these injuries involve the lateral aspect of the plateau. The most common mechanism is a crushing injury to the lateral aspect of the tibial plateau via valgus bending, where the lateral femoral condyle presses against the lateral aspect of the tibial plateau.

Author Information

Shealy, JE
Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Johnson, RJ
University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
Ettlinger, CF
Vermont Ski Safety, Inc., Underhill Center, VT
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Developed by Committee: F27
Pages: 140–148
DOI: 10.1520/STP10968S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5484-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-3462-1