Medical Education and Research

USSA Education and Research

Education and research is integral for the advancement of knowledge and understanding of injuries in the sports of skiing and snowboarding, developing advanced skills and knowledge for both medical staff and pool participants who work closely with USSA athletes, as well as developing strategies effective in the prevention of injury and illness in our athletes. At this time we have a USSA Medical Staff member with 50% time dedicated to the furthering of our participation in research efforts in Injury Prevention in our sports through the USSA – SPRI Medical Research Group.  The current areas of emphasis include:

  • Injury Surveillance Programs for Club level athletes in the United States
  • Literature reviews on current trends in injuries in Skiing and Snowboarding
  • Reviews of historical injury information and trends
  • Provision of general healthcare information to athletes. Athlete healthcare education is extremely important in the prevention of illness/injuries. Yearly, USSA medical attempts to educate athletes and coaching staff in a variety of topics.
  • Talk and Handouts on health and immunization
  • Staff continuing education
  • Coaches education in injury prevention
  • Anti-doping education via the US Anti-Doping Agency's Coaches Advantage tutorial for all USSA Staff and Medical Volunteers.

Health Issue Management Strategy

During the Annual Sports Physical Exams, medical conditions are identified and handled on an individual basis. The development of strategies to address medical issues is critical to integrate into the overall program design and management.

Click here for recommendations for clubs regarding medical evaluation.


Injury Prevention Strategies

It is essential to develop strategies to identify, as well as measure, common injuries in skiing and snowboarding. The implementation of our EMR, Presagia, is greatly assisting with streamlining injury data collection. In addition, the USSA has been working on collecting data in pre-season screens: hip and low back screens. In the 2014 summer season we have implemented a screening program for lower extremity to identify those at risk for ACL injury. There is currently no good literature that identifies the characteristics of those at risk of ACL in skiing and snowboarding, but we are utilizing the research in non-contact ACLs to identify those factors that might assist in reducing over all ACL risk in our athletes while specific research in skiing and snowboarding can be complete.


USSA Medical Emergencies in Skiing and Snowboarding (MESS) CME Course

In 2004, USSA inaugurated a Medical Emergencies CME Course, which provides education and practical skill development for USSA Medical Pool in acute injury triage and illness commonly seen when traveling with elite level skiing and snowboarding teams. This course is designed specifically for volunteer staff of the USSA Medical Pool. It will be held annually in conjunction with a USSA athletics event. The 2015 course will be held in Beaver Creek, CO after the conclusion of the Birds of Prey World Cup. This course is required once every four years for membership in the USSA Medical Pool.

In 2015, we are introducing a PT/ATC MESS Course to be held in Park City in the Spring. This course will focus on management of common sports injuries in elite skiing and snowboarding, as well as educate the participants on our return to sport processes. The dates of the 2015 course are May 15/16. 

For information on this year's MESS Course, please see the Clinics/Seminars section.


FIS Injury Surveillance System

To reduce the number of injuries suffered by top-level athletes, FIS is developing an Injury Surveillance System (ISS) for all FIS disciplines. The FIS ISS will be led by the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center and supported by Don Joy Orthopedics.

The main objective of the FIS Injury Surveillance System is to provide reliable data on injury trends in international skiing and snowboarding at the elite level. Specific objectives include:

Monitoring injury patterns in all FIS disciplines

Monitoring trends in injury risk with time

Providing background data for in-depth studies of the causes of injury for particular injury types in specific disciplines, e.g. knee and head injuries in alpine skiing and snowboarding.

Gathering the Data

The FIS ISS will be developed based on the injury reporting system already established by the FIS Medical Commission, and will commence data collection at the beginning of the 2006-2007 winter season. Injury and exposure data for the FIS ISS will be collected from all FIS competitions. For the purposes of the FIS ISS, a reportable injury is defined as: all injuries that occur during competition or official training and require attention by medical personnel. If multiple injuries result from the same accident, the report should include information on all injuries. An example would be a skier who suffers a concussion, fractured ribs and a punctured lung from the same fall.

The Injury Reports are collected by FIS for medico-legal purposes and the ISS protocol will be submitted to the National Committees for Research Ethics in Norway. All data entered into the ISS will be anonymized, and the identity of injured athletes will be protected.

Roles and Responsibilities – who needs to do what

  • The event technical delegate (TD) needs to collect the Injury Reports for all injuries occurring during competition or official training at their event. TDs at World Cup events should fax the Injury reports from their events to the FIS administration within three days.
  • To obtain technical medical information to complete the reports, the TD should request the help of a medically trained individual (event medical supervisor, physician, physical therapist, athletic trainer, ski patrol), when available.
  • Event TDs should also check whether tapes or videos were taken of the injury by team coaching staff or others, and provide information on contact details to obtain a copy of the injury videotapes.
  • FIS Administration will check the Injury Reports for completeness of the event and personal information.
  • The Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center will monitor the injury data for World Cup events on a continuous basis and actively contact TDs, team staff or athletes, to obtain missing information. It will also collect exposure data through the FIS results database.
  • Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center will also validate the Injury Report data by comparison with data obtained through other sources, such as coach/athlete interviews and team medical personnel records.
  • After the end of the season, the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center will cross-check video recordings with the injury reports and analyze them to describe the mechanisms of injury.




FIS ISS Steering Committee and Reporting

A Steering Committee has been established with three members, including the chair, appointed by FIS and the other two by the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center (OSTRC). The Steering Committee consists of Bengt Saltin, FIS (chair), Hans Spring, FIS, Eero Hyvärinen, FIS, Roald Bahr, OSTRC and Stig Heir, OSTRC. The Steering Committee will meet twice yearly to report on the ISS and related research activities. The

Steering Committee will also handle requests from other research groups for access to data from the ISS.

Reports will be presented to the FIS Medical Commission and other relevant FIS commissions annually for review. The reports will serve as the basis for a risk management process, whereby the data are used to identify injury risk in FIS competitions and ensure that every possible effort is made to protect the health of the athletes.


My Account

Need to renew your membership, get coaching tips or work on your technique? Want to check rankings or results? Find all that and more on your My Account page. 


Ready to become a member of U.S. Ski & Snowboard? Whether you're an athlete who wants to compete, a fan who wants to follow the action, or part of the support team, U.S. Ski & Snowboard has a program for you.

Get Involved

U.S. Ski & Snowboard's athletes get no government funding. Their success is dependent on passionate fans, like you! See how you can help athletes achieve their dreams.

Child Protection

Help raise awareness about misconduct in sport and promote open dialogue. Together we can build a game plan to make sport safe—for everyone.


Preview the new U.S. Ski & Snowboard website.