Often considered an adrenaline sport, skiing popularity has continued to grow over the years. The sport accommodates everyone, irrespective of age and gender.
When getting started with skiing, most people question the safety of the snow sport. Ski dangers do exist. However, due to the advancements in ski practices and gear, very few people get injured. To help you stay safe when skiing, we will look at the top risks associated with skiing.
Most Common Ski Risks and Dangers
1. Head Injury
This is one of the most severe injuries that you can experience after donning your ski jacket. Head injuries make up approximately 10 to 12% of all the skiing related injuries.
Head injuries usually result from poor head protection and skiing at high speeds. It is possible to ski at speeds as high as 80 MPH. If a skier happens to fall while skiing at high speed, his or her head will bounce off the snow, causing repeated injury. More severe injuries may occur if the skier’s head strikes an obstacle or a tree.
To avoid head injuries, it is crucial that the skier wears ideal head protection, for example, a well-fitting ski helmet. The skier should focus on skiing slopes that he/she is comfortable with. Also, the skier should ensure that visibility is ideal – this should help the skier avoid hazards.
2. Skier’s Thumb
This is one of the most common ski dangers. It is actually believed to occur more than it is reported. Skier’s thumb will occur when the skier tries to break the fall with his or her hand.
The hand extends to brace for the fall. However, with the ski pole also in the hand, the thumb generally hyperextends on impact, tearing the ulnar collateral ligament.
Skier’s thumb makes up to 10 percent of all the skiing accidents. To reduce the chances of having to deal with the skier’s thumb, you should let go of the pole during the fall. By not grasping on to the pole, you can dramatically reduce your chances of tearing your ulnar collateral ligament.
3. Broken Legs
Broken legs result from extreme tricks and careless skiing. Often, skiers break their legs after losing control of one of their all-mountain skis. During the fall, skiers may catch the inside of one of the skis, causing sudden rotation which results in a broken leg.
This injury makes up 5% of ski accidents. Strengthening the leg muscles can help reduce the chances of dealing with broken legs. Maintaining a ski angle of approximately 45 degrees should lessen the strain on the legs – this can also help you avoid catching the ski during the fall.
4. Acute Mountain Sickness
Acute Mountain Sickness usually affects skiers who are high up the mountain – the condition affects most skiers who are approximately over 2500m above the sea level. The condition’s symptoms include shortness of breath, body swelling, dizziness, and vomiting.
To make sure that you do not end up with Acute Mountain Sickness after donning your ski gear, you should keep tabs on your altitude. Ensure that you always stay at a healthy level.
This is one of the ski risks caused by inadequate coverage. It generally affects the toes and fingers. In essence, frostbite is damage to the tissue and skin resulting from exposure to the cold. The condition is quite common – more common than most skiers think.
It will only take half an hour of exposure to the wind chill for you to start seeing the frostbite effects. Frostbite can also occur if you touch a surface featuring a temperature of -19 degrees Fahrenheit and below.
The most ideal way to avoid frostbite is to wear good ski gloves. Thick gloves featuring good insulation should keep your fingers toasty and hence helping you avoid frostbite. Also, good fitting ski boots and ski socks should help protect your toes from frostbite.
Without protection from snow elements, hypothermia can have a big effect on your body. Similar to frostbite, hypothermia is one of the ski risks caused by prolonged exposure and inadequate coverage.
Hyperthermia will start to set in when the body temperatures dip below 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms can be as mild as confusion and shaking. If ignored, the condition can cause death.
To avoid hyperthermia, all you will need to do is wear the right clothing layers. When deciding what to wear skiing, ensure that the layers cover every inch of the body. Also, make sure that the clothing has good insulation capabilities.
This one of the most fatal ski dangers. It is estimated that avalanches kill 28 people every year in the US alone. This number could be higher due to the buried victims.
Avalanches have a wide range of causes. In some instances, the skiers may disturb a snow layer and hence causing it to fall.
The best way to improve your avalanche safety is to ski on monitored and safe slopes. Also, to avoid disturbing the snow layers too much, you should consider climbing up a slope in small groups.
8. Snow Immersion Suffocation (SIS)
This is one of the rare ski dangers. However, compared to avalanches, it is more common. SIS occurs when an individual gets buried under the snow.
A skier may experience SIS when they fall into the tree well. Tree wells are generally hidden from view. As the skier falls into the well, snow could cover him and keep him from escaping. The lack of oxygen and the pressure originating from the snow often causes the skiers to suffocate in a matter of minutes.
SIS can be easily avoided by being aware of their surroundings. Also, try to avoid obstacles such as trees. Skiing with a partner is a good idea. The partner can help if you get buried in the snow.
9. Variations in Terrain Steepness
This is one of the ski risks that affect beginners the most. For example, it is not uncommon for first-time skiers who are exploring new terrain to find themselves skiing directly off a cliff.
This risk is extremely easy to avoid. All you will need to do is ensure that you are familiar with the terrain you intend to explore. Also, be familiar with the trail markings. Knowing how to stop can help you avoid skiing off a cliff.
10. Collisions with Obstacles
Impacts are pretty common on the skiing slopes. The obstacles may include lift towers, snowmobiles, water pipes, enclosures, and fences. To avoid the obstacles, you will need to be familiar with the terrain that you will be exploring. If you are not familiar with the terrain, find someone who is, he/she should help you avoid making mistakes.
Note: You have to keep in mind that some skiers do ski out of control. If you are not careful, you could end up colliding with these skiers.
Globo Surf Overview
When you put on your ski goggles, you need to understand that ski dangers do exist on the slopes. However, as you have noticed, the chances of getting injured are generally slim.
Under the right conditions, skiing should be a relatively safe sport. Proper training should help you avoid all the ski risks we have mentioned in this article.
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- The Inherent Risk of Skiing, Nordicvalley.com