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FIS Injury Surveillance System: Oh My Back...

Mon, Oct  15, 2007 - By FIS

The FIS Injury Surveillance System (FIS ISS) was established prior to the 2006-2007 season with the ultimate aim of reducing the injury rates with elite skiers and snowboarders. The system is based on injury reports from the FIS Technical Delegates (TDs), and the objective is to record all injuries that occur during official training or competition requiring attention by medical personnel. The report form is found with the other TD forms on the FIS website. The FIS ISS is planned to be an ongoing system and is generously supported by DJO.

FIS ISS interview in progress. Source: OSTRC During the 2006-2007 season, 902 FIS World Cup athletes from 9 nations were interviewed towards the end of the season regarding injuries they might have sustained. As presented at the FIS Autumn Meetings in Zurich, results from the interviews showed that injuries to the knee were the most common injuries in all disciplines (Alpine, Freestyle, Snowboard, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined), except for Cross-Country, where lower back problems were most common. Nearly half of all injuries, 139 of 296 or 47%, happened in FIS World Cup competitions/World Championships (WSC) or in official training at these events as opposed to other preparations training or when World Cup athletes competed at other level events.

It could be estimated that in Alpine, Freestyle and Snowboard there were 15, 14 and 11 injuries per 100 athletes in World Cup competitions/WSC or official training, if injuries which caused the athlete to miss at least one day were considered. In comparison, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping and Cross-Country had 11, 6 and 3 injuries per 100 athletes per season, respectively. Between 22% - 43% of all injuries were more severe injuries, leading to more than one month of missed participation. However, no more severe injuries were recorded in Cross-Country Skiing.

The reports from the TDs turned out to be reasonably accurate when they were completed, yet only 1/3 – 1/4 of all injuries were reported. For next season, the aim is to involve all TDs in the injury recording, so that injury patterns and types in the various disciplines within FIS can be continually analyzed. This will enable the FIS ISS to lay an important foundation for making ski sports as safe as possible for elite skiers and snowboarders in the future. One suggestion for obtaining more complete data is for the TDs to involve race doctors and ski patrols, as well as for the teams to consistently report back to the TDs if an injury happens in competition and official training.