Debates underway about reasons for increased ski injuries this season

Posted By: The Ski Channel on December 16, 2009 5:56 pm

The number of skiers whose seasons have been cut short due to serious injuries is above average this year. In Val Gardena, Italy, today, the International Ski Federation met with various athletes and coaches to discuss the root of this abnormal number.

The issue at hand: can we blame the construction of the courses for the injuries, or is it mere coincidence?

Six skiers including defending overall World Cup champion Askel Lund Svindal, Didier Cuche, Michael Walchhofer, Marco Buechel, Werner Heel and Scott Macartney questioned the FIS men’s race director, Guenther Hujara. They discussed course settings and equipment among other topics. “It was a very productive meeting and we have set up a very good agenda,” Hujara said. “Hopefully, something is doable for both the short-term approach and the long-term approach.”

Askel Lund Svindal takes the stance that changes should be made to certain courses, and they should be made immediately: “Already today, one jump was built up pretty high. They shaved it down during jury inspection and that’s a good sign,” he said.

On the other side, downhill ski racer Marco Sullivan thinks injuries are just a part of the sport, and although the number of injuries rose this year, it’s nothing to worry about: “We’ve all kind of been wondering if there was one common factor in all those injuries and I don’t really think there is,” Sullivan said. “It’s just ski racing. (It) happens and unfortunately it’s happening a lot. But from what I can see it’s not anybody’s fault. It just is what it is.”

Max Gartner, Canada Alpine director, begs to differ:

“There’s something wrong when you tear an ACL while you’re skiing,” Gartner said. “We need to do something. I’m looking for some significant changes going forward as we enter next season. I think everything has to be looked at.”