New ski research: Skiing drunk is safer than snowboarding high, kinda

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Well, maybe only if you're Swiss: A study built from questionnaires given to 782 injured skiers at trauma centers and 496 uninjured skiers in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland found that drinking alcohol was not likely to contribute to injury, but indulging in marijuana did.

Keeping in mind that this is a self-reported survey, these researchers turned up a couple more  no-duh flashes of recreational science genius:

New ski equipment or old snow also significantly increased injury risk. Insobriety, however, did not. There was more self-admitted drinking among the control group of uninjured skiers. Drug use, on the other hand, contributed materially to injury risk. (A related, unpublished survey of injured snowboarders produced "similar risk factors" for accidents, Dr. Benneker says, including the finding that "smoking dope while boarding is a bad idea.")

Breckenridge might not be so psyched about that last one.

In a bit of a surprise finding, researchers also discovered evidence that should shut all those skiing codgers who label snowboarders as "more dangerous": Turns out that skiers crash into snowboarders more often. The reason? Snowboarders can stop abruptly, while skiers always need to slide into a stop to some degree.

The doctors did give a little dosage of reality when it comes to helmets, cautioning that at the speeds most of us like to shred at (30 mph or more), helmets are unlikely to reduce the risk of head injury. Jasper Shealy, a professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology who's studied ski injuries for decades, notes that caution and common sense are far greater protections.

"The message," he concludes "is not: Don't wear a helmet. It is: Don't hit a tree."

Touche, doc.

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