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Effects of Modern Ski Equipment on the Overall Injury Rate and the Pattern of Injury Location in Alpine Skiing

Burtscher, Martin MD, PhD*; Gatterer, Hannes MSc*; Flatz, Markus MSc*; Sommersacher, Renate PhD; Woldrich, Thomas MSc; Ruedl, Gerhard PhD*; Hotter, Barbara PhD*; Lee, Audrey PhD*; Nachbauer, Werner PhD*

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: July 2008 - Volume 18 - Issue 4 - p 355-357
doi: 10.1097/MJT.0b013e31815fd0fe
Brief Report

Objective: To identify whether the introduction of carving skis and related equipment has altered the overall injury rate and/or the pattern of injury location.

Design: Comparative case series.

Setting: In the winter season of 1997-98, when carving skis began to appear on the ski market, all injured skiers requiring evacuation or medical treatment in 70 Austrian ski areas were recorded. Five years later, when most skiers were using carving skis, ski injury data were collected in a representative sample consisting of 5 ski areas from the first study.

Assessment of Risk Factors: Data collection on injured skiers included subject demographics, weather and snow conditions, mechanism of the skiing accident, the type of ski used, injury location, and in the second study, additionally the date of the last ski binding adjustment.

Main Outcome Measurements: Frequency of injured body parts.

Results: In 1997-98, 1.43 injuries per 1000 skier days were calculated. Out of 17,914 injured alpine skiers, 29.5% of the injured men and 53.0% of the injured women suffered knee injuries. Five years later with the introduction of carving skis, the overall injury rate decreased by 9% but the gender-specific percentages of knee injuries did not change. Female carving skiers not using newly adjusted bindings had a higher risk of knee injury than those with newly adjusted bindings.

Conclusion: The maintenance of adequate binding adjustment is especially important for the prevention of knee injuries in female carving skiers.

From the *Department of Sport Science, University of Innsbruck and the †Austrian Ski Federation, Innsbruck, Austria.

Submitted for publication April 12, 2008; accepted March 14, 2008.

Reprints: Martin Burtscher, MD, PhD, Department of Sport Science, Medical Section, University Innsbruck, Fürstenweg 185, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria (e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.