Equipment and Injury

Big News!!

  • 1. The relative risk of knee ligament injury is significantly lower among skiers with plastic boots. Controlling for experience (skill level) and bindings still showed this was a significant difference. My suspicion is that the greater stability of the plastic boot may prevent inadvertent falls involving the wrong edge of the ski catching the snow ( a common mechanism of knee injuries).
  • 2. Use of plastic boots was more common in the Expert and Extreme groups (>70%).
  • 3. The use of plastic boot has increased dramatically in the past two years from 38% to 51%.
  • Plastic boots also seem to impact all injuries in that they appear to be associated with less falls

    Boot Any injury
    Leather 12.6/1000
    Plastic 6.5/1000

    (p < 0.05)

    What about bindings?

    Releasable bindings were used by 11.8% of the skiers, and these skiers had 11% knee injuries in the study groups. The survival analysis shows a definite trend to lower injury rates with the releasable bindings, though it is not statistically significant (but very close). It seems probable with a larger data set that it would be significant since this trend has been consistant.


    Releasable bindings, though not fool proof, appear to be a good safety feature consider strongly.









    Avalanche Beacons

    The 1997-8 ski season was particularly devastating among backcountry skiers with a higher rate of avalanche fatalities due to several group fatalities this year. The 1998-1999 season continued the trend of more backcountry deaths, particularly among snowboarders near ski areas. The routine use of avalanche beacons in the backcountry has become the standard practice of many skiers in the North America even though incidents involving skiers in this part of the country are quite low. The number of deaths each year due to avalanche among backcountry skiers (not heliskiers) in the US and Canada is usually less than ten (6 in 1996) and 40 percent occur during high avalanche risk periods. Avoidance of these situations is preferrable to the use of beacons as a thin safety net. The beacon can't dig you out. Beware of the group bravado effect- we tend to take more risk when we ski in a group but it is a false sense of security. Never ski a slope you wouldn't ski alone.

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    Michael Tuggy, MD  

    Last Updated 8/99 

    1999 Michael Tuggy, MD


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