During one winter season all downhill skiing injuries occurring in a large Austrian skiing region were recorded. Interviews were carried out with patients as well as with skiers not suffering injury. Several subgroups with a significantly higher risk of injury, which need to be specifically addressed by the safety program, were identified.
To be able to formulate and apply a method of risk analysis for skiing regions as a precondition for the implementation of a comprehensive program to improve skiing safety, a new measure for the risk of injury (injury per vertical kilometer) was employed; it can be used to assess the risk to individuals as well as the risk associated with a given slope or a given day under certain weather conditions.
A skiing safety program along the lines of the World Health Organization “Safe Communities” scheme is proposed, with the main goal being to provide better information to the skiers on correct and safe behavior. It is recommended that the risk analysis employed to evaluate the programme be repeated annually.