The Most Common Ski Injuries in Colorado

The Most Common Ski Injuries in Colorado

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There’s nothing as exhilarating as flying down the snowy Colorado slopes with the cold wind in your face, and the whooshing sound of glittery white powder beneath your skis. But the same thrilling speed and unprotected outdoor experience that makes skiing a spectacular winter sport also leaves skiers vulnerable to serious injuries. Alpine skiing is often classified as an extreme sport, and the resulting injuries tend to be extreme. Injury rates for skiers are approximately one injury per every 1,000 skiing days.

No one wants their day on the slopes to end in an injury, but skiing injuries are common occurrences every season. One of the best ways to avoid becoming a part of ski accident statistics is to understand the most common ski injuries in Colorado, and how and why they occur.

What Are the Most Common Skiing Injuries in Colorado?

Skiing is an excellent outdoor activity for both physical fitness and sheer fun, but it’s also a significant injury risk, especially to the knees and other at-risk body parts involved in controlling speed and direction on the slopes. The following injuries are commonly seen in Colorado skiing accidents.

Knee Injuries in Skiing Accidents

Injuries to the knees are one of the most common of all ski injuries in Colorado and other ski-resort states. About one out of every four ski injuries are injuries to the knee. Sprained, stretched, or torn ACL and MCL ligaments are the most common ski-related knee injuries. These ligaments attach the thigh bones and shin bones through the knee joint. When serious injuries occur to the ACL or MCL ligaments, skiers may note a popping sound and sensation. These painful injuries occur when the knee twists during an accident before the ski releases during a fall.

Skier Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are also common on the Colorado slopes. As a skier falls, they instinctively throw their arms out to break their fall. The shoulders take the brunt of the impact force, often causing shoulder injuries including dislocations, sprains, and bone fractures. In some cases, the clavicle—or collarbone—is also involved in the impact resulting in a clavicle fracture.

Injuries to the Wrist and Thumb

When a skier naturally breaks their fall with their hands and arms, the wrist takes the first impact. Depending on the force of the fall and the hardness of the ground surface, the wrist may break or the skier may experience a sprain or strain. Because skiers are often still holding their ski poles during the fall, thumb dislocation—sometimes called “skier’s thumb”—is also a common injury.

Head Injuries

Sadly, head injuries are also fairly common on the ski slopes in Colorado and on ski slopes elsewhere. These can occur when skiers fall, hit trees and other objects, or during a collision with another skier. Head injuries may range from mild concussions to more severe traumatic brain injuries. At least two well-known celebrities died from ski-related head injuries, both Sonny Bono and Natasha Richardson, wife of Liam Neeson.

Other Injuries

Besides the above common ski injuries, skiers experience many other injuries, including back injuries, neck injuries, fractures, and spinal cord injuries. During the 2020-2021 ski season, 57 skiers died from their injuries while 54 additional injuries were described by the National Ski Areas Association as catastrophic.

Common Causes of Ski Injuries in Colorado

Skiing injuries can occur for many reasons. According to experts, injuries are most common after 3:30 PM, when muscle fatigue combined with hardening snow as the sun goes down causes more frequent and harder falls. Ski injuries may result from the following:

  • Inadequate fitness level
  • Inadequate training or lack of experience
  • Collisions
  • Risk-taking
  • Defective, damaged, or ill-fitting equipment
  • Failing to warm up before skiing
  • Ski lift accidents

While many injuries are mild and go unreported, an average of 20-40 ski injury deaths occur each year.

If you’ve suffered a ski injury in Colorado, you may have legal options such as hiring a Westminster personal injury attorney, depending on how the injury injury occurred. When defective equipment, negligent resort management, or reckless behavior by another skier causes the accident, you may be able to recover compensation.