Natasha Richardson: Skiing death risk ‘less than one in a million’
Skiing should not be regarded as any more dangerous than a game of football, despite a series of high profile accidents, safety experts said.
About 10,000 Britons a year are injured while taking part in the sport, it is estimated.
Dr Mike Langran, a Scottish-based GP who has studied alpine injury rates for several years, said around three in every 1,000 enthusiasts required medical attention, but the risk of death was less than one in a million.
He added: “I don’t personally regard snow sports in general as dangerous sports at all. For a start, the overall injury risk combining all the snow sports is about 0.2% to 0.4%.
“This is really very low. Think of an average game of football. Usually two or three players end up with an injury at the end of the game.”
Injury rates on the slopes have been decreasing over the years, he said.
Dr Langran added: "From the 1970s to the early 1990s the absolute injury rate for alpine skiing has decreased by about 50%, mainly due to the development of release bindings and ski brakes.
“The vast majority of snow sports injuries occur as the direct result of an isolated fall, by which I simply mean something goes wrong and the person falls over.”
Lawyers warned that treatment for injuries can run in to the “millions”.
Reflecting on Natasha Richardson’s accident, Christopher Moore, personal injury lawyer at Steeles Law, added: “This tragic accident highlights that whilst skiing is a fun sport, the injuries can be very serious and you should take legal advice if you have been seriously hurt in a skiing accident.
“From a financial point of view it just shows taking out insurance is essential because often the accident occurs abroad and the medical costs have been known to run into millions of pounds.”