According to a study recently released in the Journal of Wilderness and Evironmental Medicine, snowboarding tops the list when it comes to outdoor recreational injuries, accounting for nearly 25% of all non-fatal injuries annually, followed by sledding (11 percent); hiking (6 percent); mountain biking, personal watercraft, water skiing or tubing (4 percent); fishing (3 percent) and swimming (2 percent).
The researchers looked at data on nonfatal injuries from outdoor activities treated at 63 hospitals in 2004 and 2005. They calculated that almost 213,000 people annually were treated for such injuries nationwide. About half of those injured are young, between ages 10 and 24 and half of the injuries are caused by falls. The most common problems were broken bones and sprains, accounting for half of all cases. About 7 percent of ER visits were for concussions or other brain injuries. Males are injured at twice the rate of females, which shouldn't surprise anyone that's grown up with a brother or three in the house.
Although this study has received a fair amount of attention from the ski industry (it was featured in the Vail newspaper "The Vail Daily," as well as the homepage of Future Snowboarding, the study itself requires some careful reading to properly understand the findings. Because of anomalies in the data, skiing related injuries were lumped into the "other" category alongside surfing, horseback riding, mountain climbing, scuba diving and snowmobiling. Further investigation reveals that skiing, not sledding, actually has the second highest rate of injury. The total injuries from the snowboarding sample numbered 1,457; total skiing injuries came in right behind at 1,234.
No matter how the data is viewed, the fact remains that skiing and snowboarding are dangerous sports. The best way to stay in one piece during the winter is through a combination of proper instruction, fitness, and safety equipment.