Downhill ski fatalities: the Vermont experience

J Trauma. 1988 Jan;28(1):95-100. doi: 10.1097/00005373-198801000-00014.


All ski-related accidental deaths in Vermont during the 1979-1980 through 1985-1986 ski seasons are reported. Sixteen deaths occurred in downhill skiers at major ski areas. During the same period 24.17 million skier-days were logged for an estimated rate of one death per 1.5 million skier-days. Of the skiers 81% were male, and 62% were between the ages of 15 and 26 years. Fourteen of 16 cases resulted from collisions with objects, most commonly trees. The predominance of head and upper body injuries was striking, and fractures of the lower extremities were uncommon. Lethal head/neck injuries accounted for all but two of the deaths. Only one skier was wearing a helmet. Speed and loss of control were the two major contributing factors identified in these accidents. The need for research and development in the prevention of this class of ski accidents is emphasized.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Athletic Injuries / mortality*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Skiing*
  • Vermont


  • Ethanol