Out cold – ski & snowboard injuries leading cause of winter sport hospital admissions in BC

Winter sports are a great way to stay active, but come with an element of risk. In BC, skiing and snowboarding injuries account for nearly five times as many hospital admissions as hockey. 

“As soon as it snows, we see a spike in emergency room visits related to winter sports injuries,” notes Dr. David Evans, medical director for Trauma Services BC, a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority, and a trauma surgeon at Vancouver General Hospital. “Many of these injuries are serious and require long recoveries. Some result in permanent disability. Fortunately, most are preventable – often simply by wearing a helmet, and avoiding excessive speed or reckless behaviour.”

In 2014/15, 455 people in BC were hospitalized with injuries caused by skiing or snowboarding, compared to 94 people who were hospitalized playing hockey. Of the 455 ski/snowboard-related hospitalizations, more than half (52 per cent) were for major injuries such as extremity fractures, brain trauma, internal organ injury or spinal cord injuries.

With ski-related injuries, males are hospitalized twice as often as females. For snowboarding, males are four times as likely as females to end up with injuries requiring hospitalization. Of these, males aged 15 to 30 are the most likely to get injured while snowboarding.

These statistics come from BC’s provincial trauma registry. The BC Trauma Registry is responsible for the collection and management of clinical data on trauma patients to help ensure patients are getting the best possible care, no matter where they live in the province.

Quick facts:

  • While snowmobiling accounts for fewer hospitalizations than ice hockey, more people who go to hospital following a snowmobiling incident have major injuries. 

  • Snowmobiling hospitalizations commonly involve males age 20 to 60.

  • 70 per cent of people who go to hospital after a toboggan, or sledding, related injury have a major injury. 

  • Those hospitalized for hockey injuries are most likely to be males age 10 to 19. 

  • Winter sport-related injuries in BC: 2014/15 BC Trauma Registry data:


    • 310 hospitalizations (including major injury)

    • 154 hospitalizations for major injury


    • 145 hospitalizations (including major injury)

    • 81 hospitalizations for major injury

Ice hockey

    • 94 hospitalizations (including major injury)

    • 38 hospitalizations for major injury


    • 80 hospitalizations (including major injury)

    • 42 hospitalizations for major injury


    • 10 hospitalizations (including major injury)

    • 7 hospitalizations for major injury

According to the BC Coroners Service:

  • between 2007 and 2013, 136 people died in BC related to winter sport activities.

  • 50 per cent of these deaths were ski and snowboard-related.

  • Head injuries were responsible for 26 per cent of the ski-related deaths and 20 per cent of snowboard-related deaths.

  • The other 50 per cent of deaths were linked to snowmobiling.

Source - Melissa Mueller - Corporate Communications - Provincial Health Services Authority