Auckland has had the highest number of claims for skiing and snowboarding injuries of any region in the country his year.
Data from ACC released to the Herald shows $11.9 million has been spent so far this year up until June 30, with 1018 new claims. That comes off the back of the $31.7 million spent in 2020, the highest in five years.
In previous years, Otago has had the most skiing and snowboarding injuries of any region with 5511 claims in 2020, followed by Canterbury with 2208 and Manawatū-Whanganui with 1890. Auckland typically falls in the middle of the list with 1201 last year.
But things are looking different this season with just 164 new claims in Otago and 219 in Canterbury so far. Auckland currently has the highest with 362 new claims, according to information released under the Official Information Act.
Record numbers at ski fields
With Covid-19 travel restrictions, New Zealanders hit the ski slopes in record numbers in a restricted 2020 season, an ACC spokesperson said.
They said the Queenstown Lakes district ski areas, in particular, reported a large increase in New Zealanders visiting their resorts, especially over the school holidays when visitor numbers on some days topped 2019.
The cost of snow sports injuries last year, $31.7 million, was the highest in the past five years; $29.4 million was spent in 2019.
In Otago alone, the cost of helping people recover from skiing injuries was $7.6m and $4.2 million for snowboarding injuries.
Across New Zealand, there were 12,539 snow sport-related claims – 7871 (skiing) and 4668 (snowboarding) – which was slightly down on the 13,780 claims accepted in 2019.
Who is the most prone to injury?
The 45-54 age group had the greatest number of skiing injuries (1686), while the 20-29 age group was the most prominent for snowboarding injuries (1765) in 2020.
The data shows skiing is much more likely to result in injury than snowboarding, with almost double the amount of new claims last year.
There were 7950 new claims for skiing injuries with $21.3 million spent and 4686 for snowboarding, with $10.3 million spent.
A total of 1416 people suffered fractures or dislocations while 440 people made claims for concussions or brain injuries last year. Soft tissue injury is the most common diagnosis.
Knee injuries are the most common for skiers with ,119 claims made in 2020. A total of 751 claims were made for shoulder injures – the most common for snowboarders.
Male snowboarders (2962) sustained 58 per cent more injuries than females (1724) last year.
'Have a Hmmm' before hitting the slopes
In the past five years, ACC has spent almost $140m helping people recover from snow sports injuries.
ACC injury prevention leader Kirsten Malpas is encouraging all Kiwis to share the slopes safely.
“There’s nothing better than a weekend away with your mates or family enjoying perfect conditions on the mountain,” she says.
“We want everyone to embrace that and enjoy this winter season on the slopes.
“But our claims data shows us that the skiing slopes are a high-risk place for injury. We are encouraging anyone who is heading to the mountain to take a moment.
“‘Have a Hmmm’ to assess if your ability matches the trail grade, and end your day when you start to feel fatigue creeping in.”
Malpas encouraged any casual skiers and snowboarders to hit the gym and strengthen their legs to make sure they were ready for the rigours of a day on the slopes.
In April, ACC launched an injury prevention campaign called Preventable. It is based on research that shows that 90 per cent of injuries are predictable and therefore preventable.
ACC spends around $80m every year on injury prevention.