The incidence of anterior cruciate ligament injuries among competitive Alpine skiers: a 25-year investigation

Am J Sports Med. 2007 Jul;35(7):1070-4. doi: 10.1177/0363546507301083. Epub 2007 Apr 27.


Background: Little is known about the evolution of anterior cruciate ligament injury rates among elite alpine skiers.

Purpose: To evaluate epidemiologic aspects of anterior cruciate ligament injuries among competitive alpine skiers during the last 25 years.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: Data were collected from elite French national teams (379 athletes: 188 women and 191 men) from 1980 to 2005.

Results: Fifty-three of the female skiers (28.2%) and 52 of the male skiers (27.2%) sustained at least 1 anterior cruciate ligament injury. The overall anterior cruciate ligament injury incidence was 8.5 per 100 skier-seasons. The primary anterior cruciate ligament injury rate was 5.7 per 100 skier-seasons. The prevalence of reinjury (same knee) was 19%. The prevalence of a bilateral injury (injury of the other knee) was 30.5%. At least 1 additional anterior cruciate ligament surgery (mean, 2.4 procedures) was required for 39% of the injured athletes. Men and women were similar with regard to primary anterior cruciate ligament injury rate (P = .21), career remaining after the injury (P = .44), and skiing specialty (P = .5). There were more anterior cruciate ligament injuries (primary, bilateral, re-injuries) among athletes ranking in the world Top 30 (P < .001). Anterior cruciate ligament-injured athletes had a career length of 7.5 years, whereas athletes with no anterior cruciate ligament injury had a career of 4.5 years (P < .001). Finally, injury rates remained constant over time.

Conclusion: Anterior cruciate ligament injury rates (primary injury, bilateral injury, reinjury) among national competitive alpine skiers are high and have not declined in the last 25 years. Finding a way to prevent anterior cruciate ligament injury in this population is a very important goal.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Competitive Behavior
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Skiing / injuries*
  • Time Factors
  • Trauma Severity Indices