Going slopestyle at Easter…don’t forget your insurance!
The Winter Olympics have been fantastic haven’t they? It’s been inspiring stuff, especially the Snowboarding Slopestyle, a new event that involves riders making their way (very quickly) down a steep course that includes a series of jumps and obstacles. It makes for spectacular viewing and has been much praised for its excitement and drama.
We’ve even got our very own Slopestyle heroine now, Jenny Jones, who took the bronze medal in style at Sochi. She’s a multiple X Games gold medal winner and the first British athlete to win a medal on snow. That’s an amazing achievement. Jenny’s medal is every reason to celebrate and head for the hills! And with the Easter holidays coming up fast, there will no doubt be a queue of new snowboarders hoping to try a few moves themselves. Who wouldn’t want to pull off an air grab or backside 360? Exactly. Book your ticket now!
First timers going for gold… unlikely!
But hold your horses there, just for a moment. Snowboarding, like skiing, skating and curling, takes skill and experience to pull off to Olympic standard. It’s also VERY difficult – and unlikely – that a novice is going to be able to slide straight into any kind of medal success on any one of Europe’s Slopestyle courses – without any kind of risk. Even the best elite boarders hurt themselves. According to the Sochi website, Jenny Jones has broken her tailbone, torn her anterior cruciate ligament (which required a nine-month recovery period), broken two bones in her left arm, broken her foot and chipped a shoulder bone. Eeek. She’s not alone either. Famous boarder Shaun White injured his wrist on the course at Sochi, whilst Finnish boarder Marika Enne suffered a head injury and had to be carried off the course and Norwegian Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone on a difficult jump.
Who is getting injured?
According to skiinjury.com snowboarding carries a slightly higher risk of injury than alpine skiing, particularly among newbie snowboarders and those with less than 4 weeks experience. After that the injury rate levels out before climbing steeply again for boarders in elite classes. This is probably because they are those most likely to take on bigger jumps and obstacles.
Typical snowboarding injuries differ from skiing injuries because there is less risk of twisting knees than on skis because the feet are strapped to the board. However it means that upper body injuries are more common and include wrist, elbow, shoulder and head injuries. Ankle injuries are also common.
How to avoid injuries on the slopes
There are three basic ways to stay safe on the slopes. Frankly, all three are no brainers.
The first is to be fit for the slopes. We did a blog about this a while back (you can read it HERE) but the basic principle is pretty simple. The fitter you are for the type of exercise you’ll do on the slopes, the less likely you are to suffer sprains, muscle aches and stiff joints. It’s the same as any sport really. You wouldn’t hope to be able to play 90 minutes of football without training for it so why should you be able to snowboard down a mountain without any preparation?
The second is to get proper tuition. No matter how fit you are, if you don’t know what you are doing your risk is higher – especially if you suffer from an excess of confidence. A part of the process of learning is understanding the risks and how to minimise those risks. If that means learning how to take a tumble to reduce the risk of injury, so be it. It’ll be fun…
Finally, one piece of advice that’s all the more pertinent since Michael Schumacher’s recent skiing injury, is to wear every bit of safety equipment you can get your hands on. Helmets aren’t mandatory on the slopes but only a fool would ski or snowboard without one. Head injuries account for 60% of deaths on the slopes. You should also consider wearing wrist guards, since FOOSH (falling on outstretched hand) injuries are very common in ski resorts. And a tailpad might also be a good idea too. As a newbie snowboarder you may well end up spending a lot of time on your backside.
Don’t take risks – get good Winter Sports insurance
While we can’t wrap you up in bubble wrap when you go snowboarding, we’ll still do everything we can to help you if you suffer from a skiing or snowboarding injury when you take out a Winter Sports travel insurance policy with us. Our policies cover you for skiing off piste and taking part in all kinds of slipping and sliding activities away from the slopes, so even if you fall during the après ski, we won’t let you down. Our policies will also compensate you if you can’t ski because pistes are closed and if an injury prevents you from playing out. Naturally your own or hired equipment is covered too, along with your luggage and possessions. And if you choose to take out a Superior Policy then your gadgets are included too – along with a hefty £10m of emergency medical expenses cover.
Sounds good? We hope it’ll mean you can hit the slopes with confidence. But not too much.