Is Skiing More Dangerous Than Snowboarding, Or Vice Versa?

Daniel Lucero |
Carving down a mountain
Snowboarder and skier shredding down a mountain on a bluebird day. PC: SnowSkool

When thinking about this from an unbiased perspective, most people would agree that the risk for injury is equal whether someone is skiing or snowboarding. Research conducted by the National Ski Areas Association in the U.S. has shown that “snowboarding is less deadly than skiing.”

Snowboarders are more likely to suffer ankle and head injuries, and less likely to be killed in an accident. Wearing a helmet won’t necessarily save your life in a horrific accident, but it can dramatically reduce the seriousness of head injuries. Also, the use of athletic tape such as Kinesio Tape may help with muscle activation but won’t completely prevent injuries.

Boarders tend to be involved in a higher rate of accidents that can cause wrist and collarbone fractures as snowboarders tend to use their hands to stabilize after hitting a jump.

Boarder shredding a full pipe
Snowboarder hitting a full pipe while pulling off a one-handed grab on his board. PC: Snowboarder Magazine

Ankle injuries are also more common with snowboarders. Hitting jumps and grinding rails are a large part of snowboard culture.  There’s a greater risk of ankle injuries when snowboarders catch big air.

The most common injury among skiers is a sprain of the MCL, especially in less experienced skiers. Less experienced skiers tend to use the “pizza-french fry” method which puts a lot of stress on MCLs.  Another common injury for skiers is tearing the ACL. Most cases of ACL tears among skiers tend to occur due to knee hyperextension. Hyperextension of the knees can result in a partial or complete tear of the ACL and/or meniscus.

Skier hitting a jump
Skier descending from a mountain peak on a bluebird day. PC:

Skiers and snowboarders should strengthen their knee, glute, and quadricep muscles in order to help avoid injury and possibly minimize the severity of an injury. There are many exercise programs on the internet, that can provide fellow skiers and snowboarders with proper exercises to strengthen the knee, glute, and quadricep muscles.

Wearing a brace won’t necessarily take injuries out of the picture, most people that wear a brace tend to rely on them as a stabilizing device rather than working out and replying on their muscles.

Example of some good lower body workouts for skiers and boarders. PC: iGlimpse

Skiing and snowboarding are both risky sports that can involve injuries due to falling, landing jumps, or making fast cuts when carving. Wearing the right protective gear, working out, and stretching are great ways to try to avoid injuries.

With skiing and snowboarding gaining popularity among folks, injuries could become more prevalent. As ski areas get more crowded and with there being a wide range of different skilled skiers/boarders, injuries are inevitable. Knowing your limits on the mountain, knowing the snow conditions, and being as alert as possible are all vital when trying to avoid injury as well.

Whatever you do, never hit a jump, go on a black or double black, or do something you’re not sure that you’re capable of performing. It’s always better to be safe than sorry after the fact. Respect the mountain and respect nature, you never know what could happen.

Warning signs
Warning signs at a ski area that state the dangers that lie beyond the boundaries. PC: CAIC

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