Ski areas are not required anywhere in the country to report accidents or disclose their injury and fatality statistics. They uniformly refuse to do so. The National Ski Area Association (NSAA), a national trade group representing and promoting ski areas, collects annually self reported accident and injury statistics from resorts and their insurers. It does not disclose its database or subject it to any independent audit or verification. NSAA reports a injury incidence of 2.5 per 1000 skier days with no relative severity index, and a reported annual average of 40 catastrophic and 50 fatal injuries per year.
Most life and limb threatening injuries result in hospital admissions and many serious injuries are initially evaluated and cared for in hospital emergency departments.. Analysis of statewide California hospital payment information (EpiCenter Injury Data) documents a five year annual average of over 11500 emergency department and 630 hospital admissions in California due to snowsport injuries. 80 or more of those hospital admissions and 1600 or more emergency department admissions annually were for brain, spine and vertebral column trauma. An unknown additional large number of serious injuries are cared for at mountain clinics, doctor’s offices and outpatient surgical centers.
Canadian snowsport industry injury statistics are much more complete due to a nationwide single payer health care system and ICD 10 coding system that captures virtually all snowsport injuries cared for at a hospital. There appear to be no significant differences in Canadian resort terrain or mountain operations. Applying the more complete Canadian hospital treated injury frequencies to California skier days would result in an estimate of over 20,000 emergency department visits and 750 hospital admissions annually in California. The very limited NSAA nationwide statistics appear to significantly understate the number of serious injuries annually in California.