Colorado Ski And Snowboard Meetup

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Colorado Ski And Snowboard Meetup

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Ski patrollers attend to an injured skier at Wales Game Creek Bowl in December. 11, 2020. (Jason Blevins, Colorado Sun)

Chris Arnis and his crew carve spring snow on his home hill. It’s the perfect Sunday for a lifelong skier.

The incident took place on March 15, 2015 at 16:00 hrs. Arnis, a ski coach at Steamboat Springs, hit deep trails where a speed control barrier had been pulled in preparation for snow removal that night. He lost his skis and was the first person to fly flat on a run called “Raduga”.

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“They removed the fence and left these trenches. “If they had left them, I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair playing computer games,” said the four-legged husband and father of two from his home in Paromol. “This could have been prevented.”

Chris Arnis rests at his home in Steamboat Springs on Dec. 12, 2020. Arnis suffered a C-4 spinal cord injury on March 15, 2015 after a fall at Steamboat Resort. (Special to Matt Stensland, The Colorado Sun)

There are many stories like Arnis – tragic stories of falls and crashes that change lives in an instant. But they provide little information about the severity and frequency of injuries at the nation’s 460 ski areas.

Ski safety laws that require skiers to recognize the inherent dangers of the sport and take responsibility for their own behavior protect the resort industry from large legal settlements and prevent people from realizing how often they are injured on the slopes.

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But new statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental Protection offer a peek behind the scenes of the spa industry. A study of hospitalizations during the ski season at 20 mountain indexes shows that 55 skiers and snowboarders visit emergency departments per day.

Another report found that in 2018, 2019 and early 2020, 4,151 skiers and snowboarders were taken to emergency rooms in ambulances or helicopters, about 10 patients per day during the season.

And a review of CDPHE statistics found that one-third of the 1,426 skiers and snowboarders admitted to Colorado trauma centers during the 2017-18 season required emergency surgery.

“These numbers show a serious threat to public health and safety in Colorado that is being ignored,” said Don Gregory, a retired physician whose Snowsports Safety Foundation has worked with lawmakers for 14 years to get ski resorts more informed. About safety plans, accidents and injuries. “I can’t think of any other recreational activity that generates these numbers.”

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The National Association of Ski Areas collects reports from the nation’s ski areas and tracks “catastrophic injuries,” which it defines as “severe nerve injuries, severe head injuries, spinal cord injuries resulting in total or partial paralysis, and losses resulting from injuries.” An organ.” defines . . .”

Over the past decade, the association has averaged 45 catastrophic injuries per season across the country. USA. 55 million to 60 million skiers are seen annually, so the incidence of an accident is less than one per million skiers. This does not include injuries to skiers or resort staff with health issues.

Dave Baird, director of risk and regulatory affairs for the National Ski Areas Association, declined to comment on the figures, saying he could not analyze them in depth. Most people in the ski industry are reluctant to discuss injuries and shy away from non-peer-reviewed research. However, trauma data included in many peer-reviewed studies were only available to a select few investigators.

At least one Colorado lawmaker wants to publicly share damage statistics at resorts. Only ski resorts can share different numbers from emergency room visits for skiers and snowboarders who suffer injuries from falls or collisions and health problems related to training at altitude.

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“I think resorts would benefit more from a transparent process than hiding information and keeping it out of sight,” the state senator said. Tommy Story, Democrat from Conifers. “If the industry is transparent about everything it does for people’s safety, the resort will reassure people that they’re doing everything they can to protect them when they’re on the mountain. I think you should know that, too.”

Colorado Public Health’s data from emergency room visits, ambulance transports and admissions to trauma centers show more injuries than “less than one in a million” injuries. But this trauma center admission doesn’t necessarily fall under the resort industry’s definition of “disaster.”

CDPHE statistics determined the severity of injuries using international standards, with 96 of the 1,426 injuries identified as “severe” or “profound”. Colorado had about 12.2 million skiers during the 2017-18 ski season, so 96 major injuries equates to one out of every 127,000 ski trips. And a trauma center report showed 1,131 skiers and snowboarders were hospitalized in an accident in 2017-18, which translates to one hospitalization for every 10,800 skiers. At the state’s busiest ski areas, that means two or three skiers spend a night in the hospital during the day.

A study presented last year at the 23rd International Congress on Snow Sports Trauma and Safety in Squaw Valley, California, said there are 96,000 “medically significant” skiing and snowboarding injuries in the U.S. each winter, or 1,600 injuries for every 1 million skiers. In Switzerland, which receives 25 million to 30 million skiers annually, research presented at the same safety conference last year showed that 76,000 skiers and snowboarders had injuries requiring medical attention, which equates to 2,500 injuries for every 1 million skiers.

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A review of ski area databases by Jasper Shealy, a researcher who has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles on ski safety over the past 40 years and has ski resort injury statistics, shows a declining trend in skiing and snowboarding. Snowboarding injuries over the past few decades. Shealy presented a study last year based on cause-of-injury codes used in a Colorado Department of Health analysis of emergency room visits in California between 2006 and 2017. Skiing and snowboarding injuries in California rose from 9,000 in one season in 2006 to 4,500 in 2014 and remained at that level in subsequent seasons, Shealy’s analysis showed.

Gregory also gave a report at last year’s snow sports safety meeting, but there were no injury reports. Instead, in his presentation, “Evaluating and Ensuring Effective Safety Management at California Ski Resorts,” none of the state’s 26 ski areas responded to his inquiries or requests for plans.

“We conclude that the annual injury volume is severe enough to require hospital care and that the lack of effective safety management documentation creates a serious unresolved personal injury and public safety concern that resorts are not motivated to address,” Gregory wrote in a report. Attendees of the meeting.

A study by Shelley, California, of 26 ski hills that receive 7 million skiers annually, shows that for every 1 million skier visits, there are approximately 640 emergency room visits. CDPHE used the same emergency room codes as Shealy, California, to calculate about 8,000 emergency room visits by skiers and snowboarders in Colorado each season. In a state with 13 million skiers annually, there are 615 injuries for every 1 million skier visits.

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The raw data from CDPHE is “totally inadequate” for broad conclusions, and “no one in the scientific community is publishing or citing it,” Shealy said. According to Shelley, the lack of demographic information detailing skill level, location, conditions, age and other details reduces the weight of hospital data.

“With incomplete data from a small number of Colorado hospitals, you can’t draw any conclusions,” Shealy told The Colorado Sun in an email. “For years, epidemiologists and engineers like myself have been analyzing truly comprehensive validated data sets with scientific control and statistical validity, and studies that have met the rigors of objective, peer-reviewed scientific journals. The rates were determined using methods used in the national, peer-reviewed Peripheral Injury

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