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FIS MEDIA INFO: FIS carefully following injury situation in Alpine Skiing
Oberhofen, 11th December 2009/--The significant number of injuries in the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup during recent weeks is a cause of great concern for FIS. It is carefully following the situation and seeking counsel from all parties and experts to define long-term solutions.
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper stated: "Our FIS Race Directors and staff on the World Cup circuit, all of whom are highly experienced skiing professionals, do ongoing, daily work to ensure and further improve safety during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup competitions. All our competitions are staged following precise procedures and safety guidelines, where the teams and their doctors are also directly involved. Safety of the athletes is and remains the FIS's foremost concern.
Three seasons ago, FIS also set up the FIS Injury Surveillance System (FIS ISS) to systematically collect facts and figures on injuries that happen to our elite athletes across disciplines.
Unfortunately, the reasons for the latest accidents appear to be quite varied. We have now called a meeting with all the coaches, athletes and other involved parties to identify commonalities and to seek practical solutions to this problem that has made us very worried."
Günter Hujara, FIS Chief Race Director, Alpine men, added: "The great number of injuries to the World Cup athletes at the beginning of the season concerns FIS very much. The entire FIS team is spending a lot of time discussing this. We have also asked other people to share their knowledge on this topic, together at a table, in order for us to be able to try to prevent further injuries. We are in contact with scientists we know to explore possible answers and to help make appropriate changes in our rules. The Coaches' Working Group will also get together to discuss concrete suggestions shortly.
Unfortunately, the recent accidents all have different injury patterns, and no pattern resembles exactly another. This makes it difficult for us to find solutions, and there will be no single answer to fix everything.
We as FIS encourage everyone, all our partners and other related parties, to put the facts on the table and to discuss this concern constructively and from a practical perspective. FIS is anxious to implement useful changes. A meeting with the Athletes' Working Group is already set for next week in Val Gardena/Gröden."
Atle Skaardal, FIS Chief Race Director, Alpine ladies, also commented: "We are definitely following the injury situation very closely and are trying to better understand it all the time. According to our statistics, the overall number of injuries season-by-season has remained relatively stable in recent years. Of course, our goal is to decrease this number of injuries and we work towards this with all our means. Unfortunately, it is a fact that ski racing is a risky sport and we will never have zero injuries.
FIS has interesting projects underway such as the FIS Injury Surveillance System. This research has in the last three years clarified the number of injuries across all FIS disciplines and distinguished the severe injuries from the minor ones in terms of their frequency and type. Now the research team is taking the next step and is currently working very hard at establishing why and when exactly these severe injuries, especially on the knee, happen (such as during the fall, at impact on the ground, at impact with safety installation or gate etc and evaluation of the circumstances of injury, the skiing situation, skier behavior/technique, equipment, skiing conditions, as well as joint angles and body position of the limbs).
We have already made some amendments to the equipment rules and have begun reviewing them again as there may be some possibilities to improve the safety of the equipment used at the World Cup level as a result of the outcome from the research.
However, this will take some time since we need to make sure any change will actually be beneficial before it is made. We are in the process of establishing an expert group that will look into several areas of equipment regulations with the goal of finding some short-term suggestions by the FIS Congress in May. We also plan to have a more long-term entity focused on this topic.
We at FIS will continue to work hard at finding new solutions for improving safety. But we need to do this with a long-term focus and guaranteed impact."
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The FIS Injury Surveillance System operates under the guidance of the FIS Medical Committee and a special Steering Committee. As a next step in the project, special video analysis on the ACL injury mechanisms is underway. The videos will be analyzed by a group of biomechanists/ski injury experts, who are focusing on the injury biomechanics, and a group of expert coaches/athletes, who are focusing on skiing behavior to describe in technical terms the events leading up to the injuries.
For further information on the FIS ISS, please refer to:
FIS News of 29th October 2009: FIS Injury Surveillance System - Three Seasons On
FIS Bulletin 2009, Pages 170-175
FIS Media Info of 24th January 2006: FIS to develop an injury surveillance system to reduce injuries at elite level
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