As late summer turns to autumn, Colorado residents’ hearts turn to thoughts of skiing and snowboarding. John Hopkins researchers have estimated that more than 600,000 people are injured while skiing or snowboarding in the United States each year. Most of the injuries and deaths are due to avoidable accidents on the part of the participants. In some instances, however, accidents occur that are due to negligence on the part of the resort property managers or the misconduct of others. For these types of accidents, the property owners may be held liable for damages and these types of lawsuits often make a splash in the news.
Take these facts with you when you head for the slopes
Whether you are new to Colorado’s world-class mountain ski areas; don’t get out often; or are an experienced visitor to ski areas, there are some interesting statistics to keep in mind:
- According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), 39 skiers and snowboarders died at commercial ski and snowboarding areas in the 2015 – 2016 snow season. Based on more than 52 million visits to commercial ski areas last year, that means less than one person died for every one million skiers and snowboarders sharing the hills and pipes.
- The “typical” skier who dies on the slopes is an experienced 37-year old male who skis beyond his capacity on intermediate trails, loses control and hits a tree. In fact, more than 80 percent of skier and snowboarders deaths in Colorado are men and only 30 percent of fatalities occurred on expert trails.
- The number of injuries to skiers and snowboarders has fallen by more than half since the 1970s; in part due to better equipment and in part due to extra precautions taken by the ski area operators.
Hit the snow with confidence, but understand that accidents can and do happen
As you prepare for the ski season, remember that you are more likely to be injured in a car accident on the roads into the mountains than you are on the slopes. While you may be a repeat visitor to the ski areas and know the roads, there will be many thousands who fly into Denver and rent a car and may be driving on icy, curvy mountain roads for the first time. Many may be in a hurry to get to the ski area to take advantage of the short number of daylight hours. Take extra precaution, give yourself time to get there and use common sense — on the roads and on the hills.