Snowboarding injuries, a four-year study with comparison with alpine ski injuries

West J Med. 1996 Mar;164(3):231-7.


Snowboarding is a rapidly growing winter sport. Its unorthodox maneuvers and young participants raise many safety concerns. We examined injury patterns in recreational snowboarders, comparing these patterns with those found in alpine skiers. Snowboarding and skiing injury patterns differed significantly (P < .05) for the following categories: 49% of injured snowboarders were beginners versus 18% of skiers. Snowboarders were more likely to suffer wrist (19% versus 2%) and ankle (16% versus 6%) injuries, but less likely to sustain knee (17% versus 39%) or thumb (2% versus 4%) injuries than skiers. For snowboarders, wrist injuries were most common in beginners (30%), knee injuries in low intermediates (28%), ankle injuries in intermediates (17%), and shoulder or clavicle injuries in advanced snowboarders (14%). Most snowboarders (90%) wore soft-shelled boots, 73% of lower extremity injuries occurred to the lead-foot side, and 73% of wrist injuries occurred during backward falls; 67% of knee injuries occurred during forward falls. Of all injuries, 8% occurred while loading onto or unloading from a ski lift. The sport of snowboarding brings with it a different set of injuries from those seen in alpine skiing. The data focus attention on improvements such as wrist guards or splints, releasable front-foot bindings, and better instruction for beginner snowboarders to improve the safety of this sport. Finally, the data confirm that snowboarders and skiers may be safely combined on the same slopes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • California / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skiing / injuries*