Competition Skiing

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Injury prevention in skiing competitions

In sports, the injury prevention has to be a priority for everyone involved: the sportsmen, their coaches, their family circle, the managers of the club, the federation...

A lot of important elements are the same for alpine skiing and other kinds of sports, but it also has some specific characteristics of its own.

A lot of progress in terms of prevention has been made due to the observations and studies carried out by the doctors who work on the slopes and traumatologists with a professional connection to winter sports. There are medical articles written since the beginning of the XXth century which describe the specific aspects of skiing injuries, and not only talk about the types of injuries that commonly occur among skiers and their statistical frequency, but also propose measures that would ensure higher safety of winter sports. These measures are promoted by scientific societies that unite the different professionals involved in safety and medical attention to those who practice winter sports.

Here are some conclusions that can be drawn from the latest epidemiological investigations dedicated to those who play winter sports in general (not at the competition level):

  • for instance, the incidence of the anterior cruciate ligament injury, which is currently the most characteristic injury because of both its frequency and for the socio-economical consequences that it implies, could be reduced with the help of a modification of the ski binding regulation charts and strict following of these indications on part of the users.
  • on the other hand, wearing a helmet permits reducing not only the incidence and seriousness of cranial cephalic traumas, but also the rate of other injuries among children.

We must remember that winter sports are not only a free-time activity. Their very name indicates that they are sports, and as such, they represent an implicit injury risk, even though it can be greatly reduced if we respect the following requirements:

  • an adequate prior physical preparation
  • adequate equipment
  • warming up and stretching
  • good nutrition and hydration
  • getting enough rest

Transmitting this message and teaching how to put this aspect of skiing into practice should be a part of a ski instructor’s job. At the same time, the ski instructors could also teach the rules for conduct on the ski slopes.

On the other hand, measures could be taken in the field of rules and requirements related to the environment of the winter sports (mechanical installations, characteristics of the slopes, information for the users...), the characteristics of the equipment used (requirements as to the safety bindings, making wearing officially approved helmets when skiing obligatory...), and we must remember to be vigilant so that everyone follows the basic rules of behaviour on the ski slopes and sanction uncivil behaviour if necessary.

These regulation measures have to be nourished by the suggestions of the workers and management of the ski resorts, and the experience of the professionals responsible for the winter sports safety (ski patrol, doctors...), not to forget the consumers’ associations which represent the users.

Lastly, all the above described measures have to be transmitted to those who practice winter sports; this task has to be carried out by means of direct public campaigns in the media, through travel agencies and at their destinations.