Following the first snowfall to hit the GTA and a forecast that’s predicting a very snowy winter, many are groaning and complaining…minus the avid skiers and snowboarders who are eagerly awaiting to hit the slopes. If you’re one of the many who have waited well over six months to dust off your equipment, surely you don’t want to cut your season short with an injury.

Who is at risk?

Research has shown that the risk of injury is higher for the following individuals:

  1. Snowboarders vs. skiers;
  2. Beginners;
  3. Younger participants;
  4. Participants who rent their equipment or use improper equipment;
  5. Athletes with insufficient core strength/muscle imbalances;
  6. Athletes with an underlying injury.

Mechanism of Injuries

  • More experienced skiers sustain an injury related to jumps, while beginners sustain injuries related to falls;
  • Snowboarders are 3x more likely to experience injuries related to jumps, while only 10% of injuries are related to collisions (with objects or other people);
  • Skiers will likely injure their knees due to sudden changes in direction of the legs in regards to the torso;
  • Skiers tend to injure their knees following these distinct mechanisms:
    • The slip-catch: where the outer ski catches the inside edge, forcing the knee into internal rotation and valgus;
    • Landing from a jump with most of their weight back, the skier will land with their knee extended and the boot heel will catch the snow;
    • During forward falling positions when the inside edge of the ski engages the snow.

Common Injuries

While skiers and snowboarders share the slopes, they have very different injury patterns across all skill levels. Skiers will typically injure their lower body, specifically their knees, while snowboarders are more likely to injure their upper body, especially their wrists.

Knees:

Skiers are more likely to injure their knees than snowboarders do, with a prevalence rate of between 30-50%. Injuries generally occur following a traumatic event (i.e., falls, collisions, sudden changes in direction and twisting accidents). Injuries include meniscus and ligament tears (especially to the ACL and MCL), osteochondral lesions and occasional muscle strains and fractures. Overuse injuries are also common in skiers, with patellar tendinopathy being the most common.