CALGARY — Self-described “ski bum” Matt Mosteller has never been injured on the slopes, despite a thirst for adventure that has taken him as far afield as Japan, New Zealand, the America, Europe and Alaska looking for the fluffy stuff.
“I’ve been very lucky,” said the 57-year-old from British Columbia, who has a day job as a senior executive at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies but spends much of his time free to travel the world to find the best powder snow. snow.
“Skiing has given me joy and freedom for 50 years now, and I’ve only been injured when doing other activities in the mountains besides skiing. So I’ve had a lot of chance.”
According to the Canadian Ski Council, Mosteller is just one of 2.7 million active skiers and snowboarders in Canada. And right now, many of those 2.7 million people plan to take advantage of the blue skies, fun events and après-ski hangouts that define the spring ski season – which, in some parts of the country, extends until May.
While the risk of injury may be low in the minds of many of these fun-seekers, experts say all skiers would do well to protect themselves, not just physically, but also financially.
According to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 1,317 people were hospitalized in Canada in 2020-2021 for skiing or snowboarding injuries. That’s fewer people injured skiing than biking or driving all-terrain vehicles, but more than most other sports, including skateboarding and snowmobiling.
“It’s quite common to hear about people getting hurt on the trails,” said Rajiv Haté, attorney at Toronto-based Kotak Law.
“Whether it’s skiing or snowboarding, we often get calls about injuries of this nature.”
Haté said that while ski resorts typically ask customers to sign waivers before hitting the slopes, skiers should keep in mind that waivers do not absolve resort operators from liability for negligence.
“For example, a slip and fall on the stairs because they didn’t clear the pavement, or a chair lift failure that results in someone being injured,” he said.
“If you have suffered a skiing injury, you may have legal rights and, depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury, also compensation.”
He added that it’s also a good idea for skiers to check what kind of insurance coverage they have, depending on what type of skiing they’re doing and where.
Nikola Berube, sales manager for the Alberta Motor Association’s travel division, said recreational skiing at a resort is usually covered by a typical travel medical insurance policy.
“We recommend that anyone traveling outside of their home province, even within Canada, obtain travel medical insurance,” Berube said, adding that out-of-province coverage covers ambulances, air ambulances, emergency dental care and other services not provided. under a provincial health insurance plan.
However, Berube warned that if your ski holiday is a bit more on the wild side, it will be important to check whether your travel medical policy covers it – and it’s worth taking a look at what it covers. also your life insurance policy.
“If you do things like heli-skiing or CAT-skiing, or skiing or snowmobiling in avalanche country, you really want to check and make sure if there are any exclusions in your life insurance policy. “, she said.
Mosteller said the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) sells a travel insurance product aimed specifically at the type of thrill-seeking activities its members engage in. Unlike many other providers, the club’s optional Adventure Sports cover is available to cover mountaineering, off-piste skiing and ice climbing.
ACC proceeds will even cover emergency air evacuation from the mountains, if medically necessary.
Mosteller said that over time, he developed a greater appreciation of the need to protect against unlikely eventualities, while having fun and chasing that powder.
“It definitely comes to mind more as you get older,” he said. “Starting at a young age and going on these adventures, that probably wasn’t an issue I was concerned about.”
“But I would say now to Canadians who are considering skiing overseas or in the United States – or even in another province, especially if they are going to be backcountry skiing – that it is probably highly recommended to purchase travel insurance.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 6, 2023.
Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press