Are Snowboarders or Skiers More Likely to Get Injured?

No. It’s fairly even, skiers and boarders have about the same number of injuries but those injuries are different. You are much less likely to sustain knee injuries while snowboarding than skiing. There has been a recent study on snowboarding injuries. The study was done in Australia and appears in “The American Journal of Sports Medicine” vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 701-704. In this article comparisons between skiing and boarding injuries are documented for a 4 year period. The distilled info goes something like this: skiers are much more likely to injure their knees, and when they do injure their knees the injury is usually worse (grade II or III, if that means anything to you) than a boarder’s knee injury (usually only grade I or II, with only one grade III reported during the course of the study). Boarders are more likely to injure their ankles, feet, wrists, and hands. There is also info in the article about soft boot injuries vs. hard boot injuries. The study aside, though, you can pretty much understand just from looking at a board why there are fewer knee injuries. When you fall you pretty much either go straight back on your bum, or straight forward on both knees (or hands if you stick them out (hence the increased # of wrist injuries). It is really hard to torque your knee when your feet remain locked in place.

(Following, compliments of Surfdog789) After seeing Dave Schutz bibliography, I checked out Medline for more articles. The abstract (summary) that follows is interesting [from Am J Sports Med (US), Sep-Oct 1993, 21 (5) p701-4]: “Information on the rate and spectrum of snowboarding injuries is limited. This 4-year prospective study at 3 major Australian ski resorts assesses incidence and patterns of snowboarding injuries, particularly in relation to skill level and footwear. Ski injury data were collected for the same period. In a predominantly male study population (men:women, 3:1) 276 snowboarding injuries were reported; 58% occurred in novices. 57% of injuries were in the lower limbs, 30% in the upper limbs. The most common injuries were sprains (53%), fractures (24%), and contusions (12%). Comparing skiers’ versus snowboarders’ injuries, snowboarders had more fractures to the upper limbs, fewer knee injuries, and more ankle injuries. Ankle injuries were more common with soft boots….. Knee injuries and distal tibial injuries were more common with hard boots… Overall, novices had more upper limb fractures and knee injuries; intermediate and advanced riders had more ankle injuries. Falls were the principal mode of injury. To prevent injury, beginners should use soft boots and take lessons.” All I can say is – never mind the danger, just think of the fun!

That said, snowboarding takes a lot more out of ya than skiing. On skis you can widen your stance and coast on flats, and take it easy. In snowboarding, there is no taking it easy. You always have to be in a carve, toe or heel edge. If you flat board it, that is when you are likely to catch an edge and do a real hard body slam fall. These hurt. On traverses, often boarders have to ride on one edge for a long time. It is like trying to stand on your tip toes for a continuous period of time. It is quite fatiguing, even if ya flip and ride fakie to relieve it. At any rate, this exhausts riders, and makes them need to rest more than skiers. That is why we sit down a lot. Also freestylers like to sit and plan there next trick, or air, or what ever. All skiers and snowboarders should always rest on the side of the trail, not under a lift, and so as to be seen from above. A lot of boarders, never have taken a lesson and been told this safety info. A lot of them are younger and just are not tuned in or aware.

It’s very difficult to stand still on a snowboard. If you want to be stationary on a slope, you would have to balance, much like a bicyclist balancing when stopped at a stoplight. Because the bindings don’t release, about the only way to stay still is to sit.

Editor: On a personal note, I attended a snowboard camp where one of the instructors (Chris Karol) who had been a pro for 10 or so years never sat down. In the 2 days I was there I never saw him fall or touch the snow with any part of his body except his hand. If he had to stand in one place for more than a couple minutes he’d unbuckle his rear foot (he was wearing hard shells). When he came to a stop, he’d sort of dig his edge in and balance there, regardless of how steep the slope was. The snow was pretty soft so that helped. The point is, using strength and balance, it is possible not to have to sit down.