Your chances of dying on a chairlift are almost nil, but ski injury risk is about 1 in 85

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Majority of deaths on groomed, intermediate runs

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According to figures from 2016, your chances of being killed in a skiing accident are about one in a million. But with a few highly publicized deaths this winter, including a woman who was thrown to her death from a Colorado chairlift while riding with her two daughters, ski safety is back in the spotlight.

The chair at Granby Ranch carrying 40-year-old Kelly Huber and children unexpectedly lurched into a pole and the three of them fell about 25 feet onto hard packed snow. One of the daughters was medically evacuated by helicopter to a local hospital, but both girls are reportedly making a recovery.

Ski resorts have long publicized skiers’ responsibilities on the slopes. Now, Dr. Daniel Gregorie, founder and president of the San Francisco-based SnowSport Safety Foundation (SSF), along with the president of the California Ski Industry Association, have proposed a reciprocal responsibility code that lets skiers know what reasonable measures the resorts are committing to provide for the safety of their customers.

“During one hour on the slopes and trails of California ski areas there is five times or greater risk of death than during one hour behind the wheel of an automobile and 15 times or greater risk of injury.” Gregorie said.

Chairlift deaths are very rare. According to the National Ski Areas Association, since 1973 (when NSAA began tracking skier visits and retaining related statistics), there have been 13 deaths attributed to ski lift malfunctions and falls, in a span of 14.68 billion lift rides to skiers and snowboarders.

The chances of your being injured on the slopes, however, are much greater. Here are some figures on ski injuries compiled by Unofficial Networks:

* Researchers estimate that about 600,000 people nationally are injured each year as a result of skiing and snowboarding.

* Last season, 54 skiers and snowboarders died at ski areas within the U.S., which saw a total of 51 million ski visits, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

* The majority of deaths happened on groomed, intermediate runs, while 31 percent were on expert slopes.

* The typical skier death in CO is a 37-year-old experienced male skier wearing a helmet who loses control on an intermediate, groomed run and hits a tree.

* The increase in the number of people who wear helmets hasn’t resulted in fewer fatalities. Helmets are designed to protect riders at about 12 mph, while a skier or snowboarder who collides with a tree or another rider is typically going 25 to 40 mph.


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