Are Safer Snow Jumps on the Way?

Skiing and snowboarding has become more than just a weekend getaway, if you play your cards right you come away with thrills and memories that will last a lifetime. However, amateur and professional athletes who push themselves to the limit on the slopes, can suffer devastating injuries trying to take on bigger obstacles to win the gold. Canadian freeskier Sarah Burke, was one of those athletes who pushed herself farther than imagined. She was practicing for her superpipe event in January 2012 in Utah, when she crashed after failing to complete a jump, suffering irreversible damage to her brain leading her to death nine days later.

Researchers are studying these injuries in a broader aspect that relates to the engineering of snow jumps and ramp angles. The ramps and snow jump angles may be the cause of skiers and snowboarders landing awkwardly. Injuries such as Burke’s are forcing resorts and professional gaming experts to develop safer jumps that prevent injuries for less-experienced riders as well as professionals.

Snow Injuries in Vermont

A study from the American Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that most snowboarding injuries resulted from jumping and losing control, following up with the impact of hitting the snow. From 1988 to 2006 the researchers noted that a majority of skiers suffered ACL and MCL injuries, LCL sprains, and tibia fractures. While snowboarders suffered wrist injuries, shoulder and ankle injuries, concussions and clavicle fractures more than skiers. On average of those injured, skiers and snowboarders were younger and less experienced during the time of their accident.

Most victims of fatal accidents in snow sports have been predominantly male from their late teens to early 30s. A majority of the fatally injured are skiers and snowboarders were reaching high rates of speed on intermediate trails.

What Should Snow Thrill-Seekers Do for Protection

There are many of us out there aching to tackle the alpine this Winter, but there are many precautions to consider to help prevent injuries. Skier and snowboarders should consider their health before every trip to the mountain to ensure they are performing physical activities without prior injury effects or illness. Snow sports men and women should always consider the following before enjoying a day of snow activities, no matter what level of experience:

  • Check equipment for repairs or replacement

  • Avoid snow sports if injured prior to activity

  • Take lessons on the mountain to avoid injury and learn how to fall safely

  • Ski with a group, not alone

  • Stay within marked slope boundaries

  • Wear knee and ankle braces or padding under clothing for protection

  • Avoid jumps, rails or obstacles that look unsafe or out of skill level

  • Rest and hydrate when necessary

Snow jumps and obstacles are being evaluated and constructed to fit the skill levels of skiers and snowboarders, however sports injuries may occur at any time while riding the alpine. If mildly injured or experiencing symptoms of pain following a crash, seek the attention of medical professionals. Do what you can to avoid large jumps or obstacles that are out of your range of experience and protect your body from injury everyday this Winter.