Snowboarding injuries: trends over time and comparisons with alpine skiing injuries

Am J Sports Med. 2012 Apr;40(4):770-6. doi: 10.1177/0363546511433279. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Background: Participation in snowboarding as a winter sport is comparable to alpine skiing concerning the demographics of the participants, risk of injury, and variation in types of injuries sustained.

Purpose: To examine the types of snowboarding injuries and changes in injury patterns over time. We also sought to highlight important differences in injury patterns between snowboarders and alpine skiers as affected by age, experience, and sex.

Study design: Case control; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: Data were collected on injured snowboarders and skiers in a base-lodge clinic of a ski resort in Vermont over 18 seasons (1988-2006) and included extensive information about injury patterns, demographics, and experience. Control data were also obtained during this time period to provide information about the population at risk.

Results: The injury rates were assessed as mean days between injuries (MDBI). The average MDBI for all injuries among snowboarders was 345 as compared with 400 for skiers (the lower the number, the higher the injury rate). The most common type of injury for snowboarders was a wrist injury (MDBI, 1258), while for skiers, it was an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain (MDBI, 2332). Wrist injuries accounted for 27.6% of all snowboard injuries and 2.8% of skiing injuries, and ACL injuries composed 1.7% of all snowboard injuries and 17.2% of skiing injuries. Among snowboarders, more wrist injuries, shoulder soft tissue injuries, ankle injuries, concussions, and clavicle fractures were seen, while skiers had more ACL sprains, medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains of the knee, lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprains of the knee, lower extremity contusions, and tibia fractures. The trend analysis revealed an increased incidence of clavicle fractures (P < .01) and a decrease in MCL injuries (P < .01) and ankle injuries (P < .025) among snowboarders over time. Skiers had a decrease in thumb metacarpophalangeal-ulnar collateral ligament (MCP-UCL) injuries (P < .001) and MCL injuries of the knee (P < .001) over time. We found the highest rate of injury among young, inexperienced, female snowboarders. When examining the location of injury, 21.8% of snowboard injuries occurred in the terrain park compared with 6.5% of ski injuries.

Conclusion: Injury rates in snowboarders have fluctuated over time but currently remain higher than in skiers. Wrist, shoulder, and ankle injuries are more common among snowboarders, while knee ligament injuries are more common in skiers. Injured snowboarders were significantly younger, less experienced, and more likely to be female than injured skiers or snowboard control participants. We did not find any evidence that those who spend time in terrain parks are overrepresented in the injury population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / classification*
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skiing / injuries*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vermont / epidemiology
  • Young Adult