Before actors take the stage, a traditional good luck wish is “break a leg.” The same protocol clearly does not apply in skiing, since leg and specifically knee injury is one of the most common incidents/accidents in the winter sport. About 2 in 1,000 participant skier days result in injury according to – reported leg and knee being the most frequent, much higher than skiers, thumb, lift or head injuries.

The human knee is amazingly engineered, it bends, twists, pivots, genuflects, jumps, lands, you name it- but sometimes all that gyration despite all the physical preparation and fitness, can tweak the knee. New knee friendly bindings and ski boot advances are working to reduce the knee injury, ACL tear, rate… still it is commonplace among competitive skiers – just ask Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller, Simon Dumont, snowboarder Seth Wescott

Interestingly, if you compare the ski and snowboard injury rate to soccer, a hot topic as the World Cup is going on in Brazil at the moment, soccer has an injury rate 35x greater than skiing and snowboarding according to, and that’s calculated during a single game versus an entire skier visit which encompasses a whole day of ski activity (well, we know statistically some of you only take 5 runs, while others bang out 20-25 in a ski day).

1purgatory4Still, every skier that has sustained a ski knee injury knows once it happens to you, it becomes top of mind, something you must physically and mentally overcome in order to confidently return to the ski slopes.

Who can forget Lindsey Vonn’s harrowing scream when she crashed at the World Cup in Austria, watching her knee twist inhumanely. I fractured my tibia plateau skiing at Crested Butte a week before her… so it stung for me too. She came back, I came back… so many skiers do for the love of skiing. But I will never forget the girlfriends who said jokingly “break a leg” to me before my 7 ski resort 11 day ski safari to southwest Colorado.

We’ll talk about helmet safety statistics and the very rare fatalities, which occur 0.68 per million ski and snowboard visits, suffice it to say you are safer on the slopes than in your car on the roads. Know the code and savor your love of skiing.

Just to be safe, and superstitious,  refrain from the phrase, “break a leg” to your ski and snowboard friends, k …

Copyright 2023, by Heather Burke of