Winter is a time to snuggle up inside, but for some it’s also time to get out into the cold for skiing and snowboarding. With the Pacific Northwest facing a rare deluge of snow, The Daily Beast ranks the most dangerous winter sports and activities.
The people of Seattle woke up today to face down nearly half of the city’s typical annual snowfall in a single storm. Aside from school and road closings, that means one thing for the region’s snow buffs—time to get out there and enjoy the white stuff.
But typical winter activities—skiing, snowboarding, hockey, and shoveling—come with risks. Even seasoned pros like Sarah Burke, who last week suffered a vertebral artery tear during a fall, are subject to catastrophic accidents.
To find the 10 most dangerous winter activities we looked at 2010 data (the most recent available) from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which samples injury information from dozens of emergency rooms across the country. The data is organized by injury severity, and our ranking is based on a weighting system. Injuries that required treatment and release, or examination and release, were weighted the least. Injuries that resulted in fatalities were weighted the most. The CPSC estimates the total number of injuries for the nation based on its emergency room sampling, but the CPSC does not provide nationwide samples for all types of injury—for instance, for ice hockey in 2010, the CPSC reports a sample count of 648 total injuries and a nationwide estimate of 19,613 total injuries; and a sample count of 13 hospitalizations, but no nationwide estimate for hospitalizations. In order to take into account injury severity we used the raw sample count—not the national estimates.
The one big surprise? One of the most fatal winter activities is something folks in the Pacific Northwest will be doing a lot of over the coming week.