Is skiing more dangerous for older skiers?

Photo by Logan Swayze


The Vancouver Sun has this piece today:  A public debate has started on downhill etiquette — and if it’s safe for older skiers to continue in the sport — after 64-year-old Peter Ladner was struck by a younger skier and left with a fractured left kneecap and busted tibia at Whistler Peak Chair.

From the Sun:

“Ladner’s accident has ignited a public debate about the safety of older skiers and about the living-on-the-edge extreme sports ethos that is pervasive among skiers and snowboarders.

“People are talking among themselves at Whistler and people are saying they’ve stopped skiing because they don’t want to get hit,” said Ladner, who was also struck by a skier four years ago, suffering a broken rib.

In the United States, the average age of skiers has gone up, and ski resorts are catering to the older crowd. According to statistics from the National Ski Areas Association, the median age for male and female downhill skiers in 2011 was 35 and 32 respectively. In 2001, the median age for male and female downhill skiers was 30 and 28 respectively.  But the stats notice something else — that the percentage of downhill skiers aged 25 and over has gone down over the last decade. In 2000, 60% of all downhill skiers were 25 or older. In 2011? 40%.

At any rate, skiers like Ladner aren’t letting up. And I don’t think he, or anyone else who wants to ski, should be deterred from doing so because of the risky behaviors of the people on the slopes. If we all stopped doing things, especially things we loved to do, because of careless people in the same realm who make it dangerous or annoying to do it, there wouldn’t be much left to do, would there?

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