Ski Safety Campaign in Canada

The soft white slopes around the world hold as much fun, competition and enjoyment as they do danger. The power of nature can never be underestimated. A recent dramatic increase in skiing related injuries, especially to team athletes, has led to Alpine Canada calling an urgent summit to discuss these issues and to try to find solutions that will assist in making the slopes a safer environment. When it comes to competing, the changing conditions and increasing speeds have always posed a risk, but it seems that now more than ever, the lives of athletes are at risk.

Team members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team have been plagued with injuries ranging from leg and knee injuries, to concussions, which have seen most of the senior athletes of the team sitting on the sidelines for the skiing season that has just passed. Due to the number of injuries suffered, the International Skiing Federation has also decided to start their own inquiry into the injuries. New equipment and systems have been tested in regard to increasing safety for athletes. This has also led to Alpine Canada Alpin hosting a Ski Racing Safety Summit, which was held at Canada Olympic Park, Calgary. The mission of the summit was aimed at highlighting issues that affected all skiing disciplines. No stone was left unturned with everything from binding technology, inspections, safety systems, ski boots, and course preparations falling under the spotlight.

President of the Alpine Canada Alpin, Max Gartner, explained the reasoning behind the summit, commenting that their aim was to reduce serious injuries suffered while skiing, but not take away the excitement of the sport. They are also hoping to work together with the FIS to establish functional safety systems. Manual Osbourne-Paradis was asked to be a guest speaker at the event. Any decisions made could be implemented as early as next year. Some of the suggestions put forward included requiring skiers wanting to participate in speed events to attend speed-skill camps, and age restrictions were also put forward. Many proposals were also entered from equipment specialists, doctors and even from athletes themselves, such as Kelly VanderBeek, who commented that injury numbers are high in regard to downhill racing, and it is hoped that the summit will be the stepping stone to finding solutions that could improve the safety of the sport.