Accidents Can Be Self-Inflicted, Too.

[Editor note: SeniorsSkiing.com is collecting stories from readers about incidents and accidents that they have experienced. We intend to review these for patterns and themes and use that data to influence the safety policies of resorts and other stakeholders. The following is the second article submitted by a reader in our new feature “Incidents and Accidents. If you have a story to tell, please follow the format used below and send to [email protected]]

Carol Goodman, New Hartford, NY

Where: Gore Mountain  North Creek, NY

What Happened: It was a beautiful powder day in the Northeast.  The snow was coming down heavily and close to 18 inches of new snow had accumulated overnight. The trails were virtually ungroomed. Exciting for a seasoned skier looking for the feel of western skiing.  Unfortunately, the stars did not align for me that day.  It was my first day out for the season, and my second run down the mountain when I took a header; a forward twisting fall into deep snow with no release of my right binding.

As a result, I suffered a comminuted fracture of both my tibia and fibula. Fortunately the accident occurred underneath a chairlift so I was able to summon for help immediately.  I was reached by a ski ambassador first, who was able to release my binding, as I was in excruciating pain. It was a very long process getting me off the mountain and into medical. The accident ended my 2018/19 ski season, as the surgical repair, with a rod and screws, required me being non-weight bearing for 10 weeks.

Role of the Ski Patrol: The goal of the ski patrol is to attend to the immediate needs of the skier and to keep the skier comfortable until the proper splint and sled arrives.  This was my experience, although I spent almost an hour on the mountain in the snow.  I would hope that this amount of time is not the norm.  Once I was down the mountain and was warmed up, the next ordeal was getting my ski boot off, which they insisted had to take place before I could be transported to a hospital.  Lucky for me, there was an MD available at ski patrol who was able to administer ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, so that I would not feel the pain of boot removal.

Lessons Learned:  Always be certain that your bindings are in good working order and that you have had a relatively recent Vermont Binding Release test done.  Even though I have been skiing for many years at an advanced level, the effects of aging and loss of strength should have prompted me to have my DIN settings checked and lowered. 

Advice:  Keep your equipment in tip-top shape, have a binding release check done, and keep skiing, even if you have a setback! Follow a strict rehabilitation program, followed by strengthening and conditioning so that you are in the best physical shape possible for the ski season. The benefits of participating in an activity you love, far outweighs giving it up.

9 Comments

  1. wow. Sure glad you posted this. Im getting older and not so good in shape any more. Im going to do it first thing.

  2. DIN setting guidelines have lower settings for older skiers. In my opinion we should adhere to them and not let the macho skier in us request a higher setting.

    • Barb, I agree about lowering the din setting but just have a pro do it since a premature release can be hazardous as well.

  3. Avatar Connie Grodensky says:

    In early November, my husband and I take our skis to our local ski shop to have them tuned and have the bindings checks performed. No exceptions. One year, after my second total knee replacement, I had only skied three times, but those skis still went for their annual check-up. I did notice that our shop tech did a lower number binding release this year–thanks for that info. Be safe out there!

    • Did you get a lower setting after the knee replacement? I just had a knee replaced in late June and am thinking of asking for a lower setting due to my limited ability this season. Thoughts?

  4. Avatar Norm Reynolds says:

    They lowered my settings a couple years ago, and I almost never pop out, sometimes going a whole season without a release. I still ski fairly aggressively, but certainly don’t need the “macho” settings.

  5. Avatar Patricia L Randall says:

    I like what you said about not giving up the things you love after surgeries or setbacks. I am 73 and have had both hips replaced and surgery on one shoulder to repair a tear. Skiing is the love of my life and gives me so much to look forward to. After a surgery, however, you do have to work quite hard to get back in shape, but it is so worth it. My No. 1 advice after getting back in shape, is to SKI DIFFERENTLY, i.e., be consistent, listen, look for uncrowded runs and people entering your run, and maybe even slow down a little. Only ski as fast as you are willing to be involved in a crash in. Oh, and get to the resort when they open for way less crowds.

  6. Ride a Snowbike. Knee injuries are simply not an issue

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