A lot of injuries occur at ski resorts across the country each winter. However, the public, and even the resorts are largely unaware of exactly how many injuries occur and the nature and cause of those injuries.
Should ski resorts be obligated to investigate and document injuries that occur on their slopes? And should data and statistics be collected by resorts? Should that data concerning ski injuries be available to skiers? Answering these questions with a “yes” would unequivocally make the skiing public more informed and ski resorts safer overall.
It would probably surprise a lot of people that the ski industry largely operates without any oversight or accountability when it comes to investigating and reporting injuries that occur on their slopes. The industry claims no responsibility for investigating injuries or even facilitating the exchange of information between skiers in a collision. Even more troubling, despite the fact that many ski resorts across the country operate on public lands, the industry does not maintain injury statistics and certainly does not report statistics of injuries.
The following video really illustrates how the ski industry shuns any kind of accountability for investigating and reporting injuries:
There are some obvious positive outcomes that would come from investigating and recording and reporting injury statistics. If a ski resort kept data on the location and nature of ski collisions on his slopes it could use that data to help make physical changes on the slope to improve the safety of a given area and deter further collisions at that location. A resort could see where more speed abatement or signage would be helpful or more patrol would be effective. The data could illustrate where dangerous terrain features persist or where skier density or crowding is a problem. There are countless ways why tracking injury data could be useful in making the slopes safer.
Injury statistics would also be useful to skiers. Skiers would be informed about which mountains had the most injuries. They would be aware of where those injuries occurred. Skiers could make informed decisions about where to ski with their families and how to approach a day on the slopes. Ultimately, the marketplace of informed skiers choosing to ski at “safer” mountains might improve safety overall.
One must question the motivation of the industry. It seems likely that the industry is concerned that the sport will be perceived as unreasonable dangerous if it reports injury statistics. You cannot fix what you don’t know is broken. It is more concerning that the injury doesn’t seem motivated to learn from the experience of skiers at their resorts in a way that strives to make the overall environment safer.
Greater accountability and transparency for injuries occurring at ski resorts would be a very good step forward toward greater safety on the slopes.