How to say safe on the slopes. (For starters, "don't hit a tree.")

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While not hitting a tree is obviously tops, there are a few other things you can do to increasing your chances of staying healthy this season.

On Wednesday, the New York Times Well Blog covered a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine: Almost 800 injured skiers filled out questionnaires about the specifics of their accident on the slopes of the Swiss Alps, and the results were compared with an unhurt control group. The average injured person: a 40-year-old male eager to push himself on tougher terrain.

The researchers found that there were "numerous risk factors" that increased someone's chances of getting hurt, including smoking dope, bad weather, old snow, new equipment, and deep powder.

Besides my favorite -- "Don't hit a tree" -- other nuggets of wisdom from Dr. Lorin Michael Benneker, one of the study's authors and the primary source for the Times post:

  • "Smoking dope while boarding is a bad idea."
  • Skiers crash into snowboarders more often than vice versa.
  • Wearing a helmet is something of a risk factor -- it can apparently imbue the encased brain with delusions of invulnerability and let the body ski too fast.
  • Falling down "is going to happen, so do it right. When you're down stay down. Do not try to stand up while you're still sliding. That's an A.C.L. tear waiting to happen."

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