Team sports and Ski hill accidents

After being hit and watching other people getting hit on my local ski hill, I’m working on a few theories.  Fundamentally I think there are a few classes of skier (snowboarder) v.s. skier (snowboarder) collisions.  This is just your day-to-day type, since of these end up with bruises not sled off the hill injuries.

  • Loss of control — being on terrain that’s beyond your “true” skill.
  • Doing dumb things — I’m going to hit that jump without making sure the person who crashed is clear.
  • Lack of awareness — this is the interesting case.

Lack of Awareness — This really could be broken down into either two or three groups, based primarily on age (approximate).

  • Youth – age 3 to 12
  • Teens – 12 to 18
  • Adults – 18 and up

I classify many accidents as lack of awareness, snowboarder rides over your skis.  Somebody fails to look uphill before a merge, etc.  Hence the question becomes how do people learn to pay attention to their surroundings, since at the heart this would reduce the accidents.  Here’s some examples of things I’ve experienced:

  • impact: 7 year old race team skiier in a tuck creams into the back of my skis (they go flying, knocking off my ski).
  • impact: 6 year old snowboarder — fails to look  down hill and takes out a skier standing still — never veering from their straight line.
  • near miss: 10 ski instructors skiing drills on a open run, all doing the same thing, but yet adult skiers come whizzing past them almost taking a few out.
  • etc.

In the case of Adult skiers not paying attention, is due to a few factors:

  • Over confidence — I know I can ski past that person, why are they not paying attention to me! — of course their forgetting “Skiers downhill have the right of way”
  • Inattention — This is classic while teaching drills of skiing — the student will become over attentive of their skiing and not their surroundings.   The other case is of course: Listing to your tunes, thinking about what to make for dinner, or maybe that Beer you had for lunch.

I’ll group teens and youth into two groups for the purposes of description.  One of the primary ways that adults are “taught” to pay attention to their surroudings via other inputs — peripheral vision, hearing, rules — is via driving.  An experienced adult driver, while never perfect, most likely has a lot of experience with motion based tracking when their driving.  Youth on the other hand lack this experience.

My original theory on how youth learn awarness was via similar ideals to driving, things like scooters or bicycle riding.  Since, riding a bicycle involves both speed and awareness of your surrounding while in motion.  Alas, via  a bunch of polling on charilifts it turned out there was a low coroloation between “non-accident skiers” and bicycling.  However, in doing these surveys the current contenter is:

Participation in team sports may reduce the likelyhood of awareness accidents for youth skiers. Which makes some analytical sense when you start thinking about it.  Specifically if you’re playing team sport (soccer, basketball, etc.) in which you have to have field awareness combined with rapid decission making while in motion.  You clearly will be developing your peripheral vision awareness, and your spacial awareness.

There of course is exceptions to every rule, we know the drivers we don’t like to drive in the car with…  But, the other side is that my $0.02 thory makes me want to encourange team sports not only to reduce skiing accidents, but also potentiallly the long term improvement in traffic accident reduction.