How Many People Die Skiing

by Frank V. Persall

Skiing and snowboarding are enjoyable sports that provide us with an excellent way to stay active. However, much like any physical activity, skiers and snowboarders are at risk of sustaining an injury, or even becoming a skiing fatality. But how many people die from skiing and snowboarding accidents every year?

The chances of becoming one of the annual skiing fatalities are very low. According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) fatalities are as low as one for every one million visitors to a ski resort. It is also noted that more men are victims of skiing accident deaths than women.

In our opinion, any number of deaths within any sport is one too many, but it is unfortunately inevitable that people are going to become injured. That being said, it does help to understand a little more about how many people die skiing. We are going to look at the number of people skiing and snowboarding accidents each year and how many of these result in a death. 

How Many People Die Skiing
How Many People Die Skiing

 What Is The Number Of Ski Deaths Each Year?

The number of deaths seen at any given US ski resort will vary from year to year. On average, the chances of skiers and snowboarders losing their lives on the slopes are very low; just one in a million. While these chances seem to work in your favor, it can help to understand the figures a little more. 

The NSAA reports that there were 42 fatal accidents at ski resorts in the 2019 - 2020 skiing season. They go on to detail that most of these deaths were as a result of skiers and snowboarders experiencing a collision. Furthermore, there were a significantly larger number of male deaths than females with as many as 83% of fatalities being men. 

In addition to this information, the NSAA tells us that these skiing incidents that resulted in deaths were often reported on some of the more dangerous or challenging skiing courses. These deaths are all based on reports from US ski resorts and are not on a global scale.

10-Year Fatal Incident Rate Per Million Participants

Season Fatalities Skier Days (In Millions) Rate(Per Million)
2019 - 2020 42 51.3 0.81
2018 - 2019 42 59.3 0.71
2017 - 2018 37 53.3 0.69
2016 - 2017 43 54.8 0.78
2015 - 2016 39 52.8 0.74
2014 - 2015 35 53.6 0.65
2013 - 2014 32 56.5 0.57
2012 - 2013 27 56.9 0.47
2011 - 2012 46 51.0 0.90
2010 - 2011 47 60.5 0.78
10 year Average 39 55 0.71


Global Skiing Deaths Per Year

The number of deaths for skiers and snowboarders may be significantly low when we look at US ski resorts. However, there are many other areas in the world where skiing is commonplace. 

For example, in a 2015 reportlooking at deaths in the Alps, it was noted that there were more than 100 fatalities in a single season. That being said, it was also reported that this was a particularly devastating year in terms of deaths in this region. 

As we have mentioned, many of the ski deaths per year come from the skiers and snowboarders colliding with something, usually a tree. While many skiers now wear helmets as an added layer of protection, this type of gear is designed to withstand collisions up to 12mph. But the speed of the average expert skier is far greater than this and could be anywhere between 25 and 40 miles per hour!

Injuries Per Year For Skiers And Snowboarders

As well as there being a significant number of annual deaths on the slopes, there are also many devastating accidents. Data from the NSAA over the last decade shows us that the annual average number of ‘catastrophic’ injuries comes in at around 45. However, between 2019 and 2020, this number was significantly reduced and we saw only 29 serious injuries at US-based ski resorts. 

Once again, when we look at injuries on the slopes, it is clear to see that the majority of sufferers are male. In the 2019 - 2020 report, only 21% of catastrophic accidents when skiing or snowboarding were sustained by females. 

Similarly to the fatalities on the slopes, the most common cause of injury was related to a skier or snowboarder experiencing a collision; either with another mountain user or an inanimate object. 

10-Year Catastrophic Injury Rate Per Million Skier/Snowboarder Visits

Season CatastrophicInjuries Skier Days(In Millions) Rate(Per 1 Million Visits)
2019 - 2020 29 51.3 0.56
2018 - 2019 31 59.3 0.52
2017 - 2018 37 53.3 0.69
2016 - 2017 32 54.8 0.58
2015 - 2016 45 52.8 0.85
2014 - 2015 42 53.6 0.78
2013 - 2014 51 56.5 0.90
2012 - 2013 76 56.9 1.34
2011 - 2012 49 51.0 0.96
2010 - 2011 60 60.5 0.99
10 year Average 45 54.9 0.81

Summary

Going out onto the slopes is certainly something of an adventure but it should by no means be something that puts the fear of God into would-be ski enthusiasts. There are some deaths each year from accidents that arise from snowboarding or skiing. However, these are minimal and many of these deaths occur on the expert trails. 

Furthermore, the number of critical fatalities each year at a ski resort is very low, with a ten-year average of just 45. 

If you are heading out onto the slopes, it is important that you do so safely. We would always encourage you to gather as much skiing information as possible to be sure that you are ready for any eventuality. 

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About Frank V. Persall

Originally from the UK, Frank has a passion for skiing and anything snow related. He is currently on a never ending mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the the World. Frank is happiest when he is on ski slopes with his wife and three children.

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