When using hospital discharge data to shape sports injury prevention policy, it is important to correctly identify cases. The objectives of this study were to examine the ease with which snow-skiing and snowboarding injury cases could be identified from national hospital discharge data and to assess the suitability of the information obtained for shaping policy. Hospital discharges for 2000-2004 were linked to compensated claims and searched sequentially using coded and narrative information. One thousand three hundred seventy-six eligible cases were identified, with 717 classified as snowboarding and 659 as snow-skiing. For the most part, cases could not be identified and distinguished using simple searches of coded data; keyword searches of narratives played a key role in case identification but not in describing the mechanism of injury. Identification and characterisation of snow sport injury from in-patient discharge records is problematic due to inadequacies in the coding systems and/or their implementation. Narrative reporting could be improved.