A prospective study of snowkiting injuries

Am J Sports Med. 2011 Jul;39(7):1534-40. doi: 10.1177/0363546511398214. Epub 2011 Mar 9.


Background: Snowkiting is becoming an increasingly popular extreme sport; however, its injury rates and patterns are unknown to date.

Purpose: The authors surveyed the injuries in a group of snowkiters over 1 season.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods: The study was conducted over the course of 1 winter season ranging from November 2009 until March 2010; 80 snowkiters were surveyed prospectively. All participants were recruited through contacts with snowkite schools, snowkiting-related web portals, or Internet-based social networks.

Results: During 3929 hours of snowkiting recorded, 33 injuries occurred, of which 60.6% were mild; 21.2%, moderate; and 18.2%, severe. The calculated injury rate was 8.4 injuries per 1000 hours of exposure. Most frequently injured body sites were the back (30.3%), knee (24.2%), shoulder (21.2%), and head (21.2%). Upper extremity injuries included 2 shoulder dislocations, a clavicle fracture, and a dislocation fracture of the radial head. Injuries to the lower extremity included 3 knee sprains and 1 anterior cruciate ligament rupture. The most common injury causes were riding errors (75.8%), wind gusts (36.4%), and poor snow conditions (27.3%). When compared with experts (5.1 injuries per 1000 hours of exposure), beginners (20.8 injuries per 1000 hours of exposure) had a significantly increased risk of getting injured (odds ratio [OR] 4.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.34-12.64; P = .008). Athletes who used snowboards for snowkiting purposes were injured almost 3 times more frequently than their colleagues using skis (11.7 vs 4.1 injuries per 1000 hours of exposure; OR 2.85; 95% CI, 1.23-6.57; P = .010). The quick-release system (97.5%), helmet (92.5%), kite leash (83.8%), spine protector (51.3%), and shoulder protectors (20.0%) were the most commonly used protective/safety equipment.

Conclusion: Snowkiting can be considered a sport carrying a high risk of injury. More caution in assessing local snow conditions and wind gust occurrences is recommended as well as considering using the help and advice of a professional instructor when beginning this action-packed sport. Injury prevention strategies should also include the further improvement of currently available safety equipment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Back Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Knee Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protective Devices
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • Snow Sports / injuries*