Is Skiing Dangerous?

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Skiing is one of the most popular alpine sports in the world. In the U.S. alone, there are 10 million to 12 million active skiers and snowboarders. But is it safe?

The answer is yes. When skiers and snowboarders get injured, it’s usually the result of hitting a tree, another skier or snowboarder, or something else in the terrain.

It’s important to remember that skiing and snowboarding are participation sports. In other words, they involve risk-taking.

You are Responsible for Your Safety

Most ski fitness books and guides tell you how to keep fit, how to optimize your technique, etc. But they rarely tell you how to prevent injuries. That’s where a ski injury prevention routine comes in handy.

Injury prevention is mainly dependent on you and your level of alertness. You must be constantly aware of the risks you take and that it does not become a habit that you pay little attention to. Go beyond the point where you feel safe – but still stay safe and take calculated risks.

Just as with any other athletic pursuit, the more aggressive and competitive you get, the more dangerous skiing becomes. Do not get overly aggressive when racing down the mountain. Remember that you are responsible for your own actions and that it is your responsibility to remain safe at all times.

Why can Skiing be Dangerous?

You may not realize it, but when you’re on the snow, you’re in danger all the time. When you go skiing, it’s not simply the snow that is unsafe – you’re actually a danger to yourself. There are a few reasons for this, the most obvious of which is that you’re skiing down a snow-covered hill. This means that your speed can increase at a frightening rate.

Add to that the fact that you’re not just going down a safe, flat hill, but rather, a hill that is meant for skiing on. The skiers shaped that hill to be fun and attractive for skiing. It’s not a safe hill, even if it looks like it is.

What is more, you’re not on the most even of surfaces. This terrain is prone to ice, rocks, and other obstacles that can easily trip you up. These factors should give you an idea of why you’re in such danger while you’re skiing.

General Injuries

A five-year study reported that for every 1000 skiers, there are 3.14 injuries.

A Finnish study over a six-year period provided the following interesting statistics about skiing injuries:

  • Where the injuries took place: 72% occurred on-piste, and 3% off-piste; terrain parks had a 19% occurrence rate; and injuries while on ski lifts was 6%.

  • The location of injuries on the body: 42% of injuries were incurred on the lower body and 34% on the upper extremity; head injuries made up 15% of the total; and spinal column injuries were at 6%.

The main types of injuries that can occur while skiing are:

  • Knee injuries from ski accidents
  • Leg sprains and fractures
  • Skier's thumb
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal injuries and paralysis


Fatalities can be caused by head, brain, and neck injuries; or blunt force traumas and internal traumas. However, the chance of dying from a skiing complication is very low – as low as one death per one million skiers, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

The likelihood of an injury becoming fatal obviously depends on the extent of the injury, but also how quickly emergency personnel responds, and the quality of medical care provided by the nearest medical facility. Additionally, the NSAA reported that males are much more commonly killed as a result of skiing than women – with 83% of skier fatalities being male.

Beginner Worries

The mere mention of the word "skiing" sends shivers down the spine of some beginners. Skiing can indeed be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean that you should avoid it altogether.

The fact is that the majority of skiing accidents happen on beginner slopes, also referred to as “baby slopes.” These are low-angle slopes at resorts that introduce beginners to skiing. As such, the majority of skiing injuries and accidents could be prevented by undertaking some beginner ski lessons.

However, some accidents are are not entirely preventable, even when you have undertaken comprehensive skiing lessons. You could injure yourself due to various reasons such as:

  • An awkward landing after leaping off a slope
  • An impatient attempt to jump over a double-pole marker
  • An attempt to jump two chairs of the same color
  • An attempt to pass an oncoming skier
  • A collision with another skier
  • A collision with an object

The Higher the Peak, the Harder the Fall

I once overheard someone say, “all things considered, skiing is pretty safe.” I agree that compared to other sports, the risks are pretty minimal. But that doesn’t mean we should be reckless, and of course, there are always risks involved.

Skiing is dangerous. If you lose balance and fall, the consequences will be serious. Remember: the higher the peak, the harder the fall. The reality is, if you’re not prepared, there is a possibility that you could fall.

However, if you’re like me, and you're passionate about the sport, you’ll be prepared all the time. Taking time to prepare for your ski vacation, no matter where it is and what type of skiing it involves will always help reduce your risk. You can then ski with more safety and confidence.

The Possibility of Avalanches

Skiing can be a fun – and very exciting – sport, but keep in mind that there is still a small chance that a skiing incident could be fatal.

An avalanche occurs when a layer of snow – buried in the powder – partially or completely breaks off and slides down the mountain as an uncontrolled mass of snow.
According to statistics, more than 150 skiers die worldwide as a result of an avalanche. The most probable causes of death are suffocation, wounds from the avalanche, or hypothermia.

What is very alarming is that 90% of avalanches involving people are caused by skiers. After heavy rains or when temperatures begin to rise towards spring, the weight of the snow becomes too heavy to remain stable. Any extra weight, like that of a skier, can cause these layers to slide in an avalanche.


Is skiing dangerous?

Every winter, when the snow falls, and the slopes become white, people eagerly gear up for fun and adventure. Everyone seems to participate in skiing, from professional skiers to beginners and from families to the eldery. Skiers take up the sport because it gives them a thrill, and they can never get enough of it. While many people love skiing, it is considered a dangerous sport.

The fact that skiing is romanticized on television by the hundreds of hours of footage of the downhill races and Olympic heros make it more likely for a person want to have a go. However, in the back of their minds, they are aware that something might go wrong and that skiing is extremely dangerous.

Remember that skiing injuries are mostly preventable. So, if you ski with caution, you can have a wonderful day skiing that is incident-free.