Hospital reports dramatic increase in accidents at Swiss ski resorts
The Cantonal Hospital of Graubünden has reported a 30 percent increase in the number of injuries caused by skiing and snowboarding in Switzerland. Experts have blamed the weather and an increasingly relaxed attitude towards speed.
Swiss hospital reports dramatic rise in skiing injuries
Speaking to Watson, head of accident and general surgery at the hospital Christoph Sommer confirmed that in the Christmas period of 2023, they recorded a 30 percent increase in the number of sports injuries compared to the year before. “There are more people injured in winter sports than ever before…There are days when 40 injured people come to the hospital,” he added.
Based in Chur, the cantonal hospital is responsible for treating serious ski injuries and medical emergencies across many of Switzerland’s most popular resorts in Graubünden (Davos and St. Moritz, for example), Glarus (Elm) and parts of St. Gallen (Bad Ragaz).
Skiier gets injured in Switzerland every two minutes
Sommer noted that 75 percent of people with serious sports injuries are skiers, while 25 percent are snowboarders. Interestingly, the types of injuries sustained vary by sport: Sommer noted that snowboarders are more likely to injure wrists and shoulders, while knee injuries are the most common in skiers.
These injuries are not a rare occurrence either, with the Advisory Center for Accident Prevention (BFU) revealing in a statement that, based on a five-year average, 70.000 people are injured while participating in winter sports in Switzerland every season. 50.000 of whom are skiers, meaning based on a five-month season, a skier gets injured on a Swiss slope every two minutes.
When asked why so many accidents were occurring in the 2023 / 24 season, Sommer argued that “the less snow and the nicer the weather, the more accidents there are.” He explained that the artificial snow that ski resorts are increasingly being forced to use is usually denser and harder than regular snow, making falls more severe. He added that artificial snow is also perfectly groomed for skiing, increasing the speed of accidents.
Speed and artificial snow blamed for rise in accidents
Indeed, experts noted that speed is becoming more of an issue on the slopes, with a recent survey by accident insurance provider SUVA finding that 75 percent of skiers in Switzerland reach a top speed of more than 50 kilometres an hour, while one in five skiers have a top speed of between 70 and 100 km / h. The highest speed recorded was a young male teen, who was clocked at 114 km / h.
The BFU noted that when skiing fast on artificial snow, “The risk of injury is likely to be greater due to the higher forces acting on the body” if there is a collision or a fall. This, combined with the fact that artificial slopes are narrower than natural ones, increases the likelihood and severity of collisions.