Objectives: To investigate the trend and injury patterns of deaths associated with snow skiing in Colorado between 1980 and 2001.
Methods: Death certificates were searched electronically and reviewed manually. Total skier ticket sales were used to calculate death rates. Types of injuries and characteristics of those who died were investigated.
Results: A total of 274 skier deaths occurred between 1980 and 2001 in Colorado. Death rates ranged from 0.53 to 1.88 per million skier visits. The majority of deaths were among males (>81%). Ages ranged from 7 to 77 years with an average of 32 years. The greatest number of deaths associated with downhill skiing (76 deaths) occurred between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. while the greatest number of deaths associated with cross-country skiing happened between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. About 65% of deaths associated with downhill skiing (133 cases) died of traumatic injuries resulting from collisions.
Conclusions: A slight increase in the rate of ski-related deaths was observed. The role of collisions in ski-related deaths warrants further investigation to reduce the risk of this activity for all skiers. Further work is needed to determine the efficacy of helmet use to reduce the risk of head injuries in the skiing population.