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How Safe is Skiing?

The Safety Site

Monica Palmer, RSRC Safety Administrator

Recreational Safety takes Responsibility & Control

How Safe is Skiing?

Some people, based on what they have seen on televised ski races, or what ski accidents made the local news or office gossip, automatically consider skiing to be a dangerous sport.  Actually, when skiers are properly trained, follow the rules, and use properly maintained equipment, skiing is a relatively safe sport.

Skiers are more likely to be injured in an automobile accident, either driving to or from the ski resort, than they are to be injured on the slopes.  According to the National Ski Area Association, the number of ski related deaths is less than 1 per million.

Every new skier should be made aware of the Skiers Responsibility Code.

1. Always stay in control.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
7. Know how to use the lifts safely.

Following the 7 rules and skiing within your ability can reduce your risk of injury or death. According to American Sports Data Inc, the most practical method of assessing risk potential in a sport is to measure the number of injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures - the number of times a participant engages in the activity over the course of a year. Using this method, boxing, football, snowboarding, and ice hockey are all more dangerous than Alpine skiing.


In December, 2016, a man died at Mount Rose after going into a closed area where he triggered a fatal avalanche.  The area called “The Chutes” was closed because of recent new snow and was not stable.  The skier had to cross a barrier to go in there.  This should never have happened, but he paid the ultimate price for his poor judgement.


Northstar had two fatalities last season.  In December, a ski instructor was struck by a snowboarder.  The collision sent the skier off course where he crashed into a tree.  About two months later, a snowboarder fell head first into a tree well and suffocated.


Yes, there are risks involved with skiing and all active sports.  However, if we follow the 7 rules of the Skiers Responsibility Code, then we can minimize these risks.


Monica Palmer