There is evidence to suggest that the rate of injury is lower for expert skiers and snowboarders than for beginners. A better understanding of the relation between injury severity and skill level is also needed for planning injury prevention strategies. Our objective was to examine the severity and location of injuries sustained by self-reported expert and beginner skiers and snowboarders. A case-control study design was used. Injured skiers and snowboarders had to report their skill level on a 5 point scale (1: "beginner"; 5: "expert"). Two sets of severely injured cases were defined based on the type of injury and ambulance evacuation. Controls were those who did not sustain severe injuries. Logistic regression analyses were performed to relate injury severity to skill level. Subjects were 22 078 injured skiers and snowboarders who reported to the ski patrol with an injury sustained on the slopes of an alpine ski centre of the Canadian province of Québec during the seasons 2001-2002 to 2004-2005. Compared with beginners, experts had an increased risk of suffering from a severe injury (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 1.88; 95% CI: 1.58-2.23). Expert snowboarders were also more likely to suffer from a severe injury or be evacuated by ambulance (AOR: 1.18; 95% CI: 1.02-1.38). Results suggest that the type of activities or manoeuvres performed by expert skiers and snowboarders may increase the risk of sustaining a severe injury compared with beginner participants.
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