Winter sports injuries revealed as Eddie the Eagle warns skiers to protect themselves this season

14th December 2015

  • A fifth injured on winter sports holiday, two thirds requiring medical treatment
  • A quarter knowingly hit the slopes without any winter sports travel insurance
  • A third push skills to the limits but one in four refuse to wear any protective gear

Legendary Winter Olympian Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards has joined Nationwide Building Society in urging skiers and snowboarders to wear a helmet this season as a new poll reveals the dangers of throwing caution to the wind.

The survey, which polled 1,000 people who have participated in winter sports, shows that despite a number of high profile skiing accidents in recent years, a quarter of people (22%) still refuse to wear any protective clothing or equipment. Less than half (49%) wear a helmet, despite the survey showing that more than one in ten winter sports injuries are to the head (11%).

Around a fifth of people (18%) are injured taking part in winter sports, with two thirds of casualties requiring medical or hospital assistance. The risk of injury is compounded by the fact one in four people (25%) don’t consider paying a small sum to insure themselves, despite spending an average of £492 each time they go on a winter sports trip. A further 11 per cent are unsure whether they are insured or not.

Injuries are attributed to three main factors according to the poll - overconfidence (37%), inexperience (36%) and competitiveness (27%). This is supported by the figures that show more than a third of people have been clattered by someone else on the slopes (36%), while one in ten say someone in their party was seriously injured (10%).

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, who is most famously remembered for his valiant efforts in the 1988 Winter Olympics, said: “As someone who has done a few jumps in my life, I can vouch for the merits of wearing a helmet as I’ve crashed out more times than I care to remember. In simple terms, it can be a life saver, so stick one on. But even with all the gear, sliding around on snow and ice carries a risk.

“Anyone not taking out a decent insurance policy is chancing their arm as the stats speak for themselves. If you go skiing, snowboarding or sledging, you’re going to get a few bumps and scrapes. But if the worst happens and you require treatment or need to come back home early, you could be on a slippery slope if you’re not properly covered”.

According to the poll, the most common injuries include bruises (53%), knee/ ankle (45%), wrist/ shoulder (34%), head (11%) and spine (8%). However, a number of these injuries could be caused by a lack of caution as opposed to lack of protective equipment.

The poll shows nearly a third of people (31%) will go beyond their skill level, while three in ten commit to jumps (29%) and more than a fifth go off-piste for their thrills (21%). A further 19 per cent attempted risky manoeuvres while 17 per cent take on slopes that are too tough to tackle. One in eight (15%) attempt to perform tricks and race against others.

Nearly a quarter of people (24%) think Brits are the worst at winter sports, with the main reasons being a lack of snow in the UK and that Brits abroad are more interested in the après-skis and enjoying themselves than honing their skills.

Dan King, who heads up Nationwide’s FlexPlus current account, which provides winter sports cover for the family as standard, said: “As the snow season kicks in, the last thing we may be thinking about is buying a helmet or travel insurance. Consider getting both as they could serve as vital protection. Regardless of skill levels, we would always recommend getting adequate travel cover – for the sake of a relatively small outlay it really isn’t worth the risk. Aside from the chance of injury, there’s also the risk of unexpected issues such as piste closures and avalanches. With Nationwide’s FlexPlus current account, a range of benefits are on offer for just £10 a month. This includes worldwide family travel insurance, which covers winter sports as standard.”

Nationwide FlexPlus was ranked the best by Which? in 2014. It offers Worldwide Family Travel Insurance and is the only provider to offer combined winter sports, golf, wedding and business cover as standard. It will cover ski pack, ski equipment, hired skis, piste closures, avalanche closure, physiotherapy following a skiing accident and delayed ski equipment as well as medical expenses up to the value of £10 million. Off-piste skiing under the supervision of a professional guide is also covered.

Notes to Editors

  • The research was carried out by OnePoll and questioned 1,000 adults that have ever taken part in a winter sport. It was conducted between 27/11/2015 and 01/12/2015.
  • A separate poll, also conducted by OnePoll questioned 2,000 adults. It was commissioned between 27/11/2015 and 01/12/2015.

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