Background: Injuries in alpine skiing and snowboarding are mainly caused by falls. In 2002, a study was conducted to gain insight into the risk factors for falls when skiing or snowboarding. Since then, the evolution of skiing, snowboarding and safety equipment, as well as slope preparation, may have altered the frequency of falls while skiing or snowboarding.
Methods: In total, 1436 male and female skiers and snowboarders from all age groups were interviewed from February until April 2012, in 6 Tyrolean ski resorts. The questionnaire was nearly identical to that used in 2002. It contained questions concerning personal characteristics, falls, equipment and risk taking behaviour.
Results: The incidence of falls among skiers was 0.076 ± 0.21 per hour and that among snowboarders was 0.429 ± 0.70 per hour. Age (OR: 0.96; CI: 0.95 - 0.97), soft snow conditions (OR: 4.1; CI: 1.9 - 8.8) and poor skiing skills (beginners and intermediates) (OR: 2.6; CI: 1.2 - 8.1) were predictive for falls during skiing. Poor snowboarding skills (beginners and intermediates) (OR: 8.3; CI: 3.1 - 27.4), wearing a helmet (OR: 2.3; CI: 1.2 - 4.6) and alcohol consumption (OR: 2.1; CI: 1.2 - 3.9) were predictive for falls during snowboarding.
Conclusions: The incidence of falls among skiers and snowboarders was substantially lower when compared to that in 2002. Improvements in skiing and snowboarding equipment as well as slope preparation may have contributed to this favourable development. We strongly assume that the lowering in fall incidence may positively affect the injury incidence.
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