Impact of environmental factors on knee injuries in male and female recreational skiers


Corresponding author: Gerhard Ruedl, Department of Sport Science, University of Innsbruck, Fürstenweg 185, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria. Tel: +43 512/507-4451, Fax: +43 512/507-2656, E-mail:


In alpine skiing, the knee represents the dominant injury location with marked gender differences. Snow, slope and weather conditions as well as altitude and low temperatures are thought to influence the prevalence of knee injuries. Therefore, ski patrol injury reports were used to compare gender-specific prevalence of knee injuries with regard to several environmental factors including the actual air temperatures. A total of 1039 non-contact knee injuries were reported with a corresponding prevalence of knee injuries of 44.4% (males: 30.1%; females: 57.4%). Temperature quartiles of all recorded injuries were calculated to compare gender-specific prevalence of knee injury with regard to temperatures. Comparing the first quartile (mean temperature −11 °C) with the fourth quartile (mean temperature +3 °C), the prevalence of knee injury in female skiers was higher at low ambient temperatures (61% vs 50%, odds ratio: 1.60, 95% confidence interval: 1.16–2.22; P=0.005) while no such association was found for male skiers. Additionally, knee-injured females showed a twofold prevalence when skiing during snowfall compared with females with other injuries (15.4% vs 8.6%; P=0.001). No other environmental factor showed a significant association with the gender-specific prevalence of knee injury. In conclusion, low ambient temperature and snowfall are important environmental risk factors for knee injuries in female skiers.