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13,000 reasons to keep safety in mind this ski season

6 June 2014

13,000 reasons to keep safety in mind this ski season

This year’s ski season is about to begin, with two South Island resorts scheduled to open tomorrow, and ACC is reminding Kiwis to keep safety in mind on the slopes – to avoid joining the skiers and snowboarders who lodged around 13,000 injury claims in 2013.

The New Zealand ski season traditionally runs between June and October.

ACC’s Programme Manager - Sport, Kirsten Malpas, says “New Zealand is blessed with easy access to prime ski fields, making it a paradise for those who enjoy the thrill and challenge of getting out on the slopes.

“While skiing and snowboarding are fantastic ways to keep active and enjoy our great outdoors, it’s important to remember that they’re physically demanding activities which often involve challenging terrain, so following safety guidelines is a must.

“Fortunately, the majority of claims from skiers and snowboarders last season were for minor injuries such as bruising, sprains and strains, but there were also more serious injuries such as fractures, dislocations and head injuries.”

In 2013, ACC paid out $18.5 million for injuries that resulted from skiing or snowboarding.

To reduce the risk of injury, Ms Malpas recommends the following:
• start building up your fitness before the season starts, especially if you’re not physically active on a regular basis
• warm up before you start skiing or snowboarding, as you would before any physical activity
• ideally, get lessons from a qualified instructor - they can teach you important techniques such as how to fall safely.
• make sure you’re familiar with, and you follow, the ‘Snow Responsibility Code’, endorsed by the New Zealand Snow Sports Council.

Snow Responsibility Code

1. Stay in control at all times
Know your ability, start easy, be able to stop and avoid other people.

2. People below you have the right of way
The skier or boarder downhill of you has the right of way, also look above before entering a trail.

3. Obey all ski area signage
Signs are there for your safety, keep out of closed areas.

4. Look before you leap
Scope jumps first, ensure the area is clear of others, use a spotter on blind jumps.

5. Stop where you can be seen
When stopping, try to move to the side of the trail and where you can be seen from above.

6. Don’t lose what you use
Equipment must be secured while walking or stashing.

7. Stay on scene
If you are involved in, or witness, an accident, remain at the scene and identify yourself to Ski Patrol.

8. Respect gets respect
From the lift line, to the slopes and through the park.

ACC claim statistics 2013

Skiing-related injury claims – 8000 approx.

Top four skiing-related injuries:
Soft tissue injuries (bruises, sprains, strains) – approx. 80% of claims
Fractures/dislocations – approx. 10% of claims
Lacerations/puncture wounds – approx. 3% of claims
Concussion – approx. 3% of claims

Snowboarding-related claims – 5000 approx.

Top four snowboarding-related injuries:
Soft tissue injuries (bruises, sprains, strains) – approx. 70% of claims
Fractures/dislocations – approx. 20% of claims
Concussion – approx. 5% of claims
Lacerations/puncture wounds – approx. 3% of claims

Most snow sports injuries (around 70%) are caused by loss of control, resulting in falls or collisions


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