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by Josh Lerman

Since the advent of shaped skis, the question has been raised whether these skis pose an increased risk of injury to skiers compared with conventional straight skis. It turns out they do, but not in the ways you might expect. A recent study by University of Vermont orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Johnson, et al. shows that skiers are, overall, 1.4 times more likely to be injured on shaped skis than on old-school boards. But there's more to the story.

The study showed advanced or expert skiers on shaped skis are at greater risk of injury overall and specifically of isolated ACL sprains than on conventional skis. This is unusual because, traditionally, low-level skiers have been more likely to get hurt than experts. Less-skilled skiers on shaped skis were overall no more likely to sustain injury than were skiers of similar skill on conventional gear. They were, however, more likely to break their ankles on shaped skis than on regular skis. (Perhaps due to poor boot fit.)

The study's authors hypothesize that advanced skiers are at increased risk because they are less likely to have taken a lesson on shaped skis and may be untrained in modifying their technique to the new technology than beginners, who are likely to be fresh out of a lesson.

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