Skiing is among safest of sports despite deaths of celebrities

Sonny Bono, the American pop singer-turned-congressman who has been killed in a skiing accident at an American resort, is the second celebrity to die on the slopes in less than a week. Nevertheless, as Kathy Marks reports, skiing remains one of the least dangerous sports.

It was a chilling echo of the death last week in in Aspen, Colorado of Michael Kennedy, son of the late Robert F Kennedy.

Sonny Bono, half of the Sonny and Cher duo who had a string of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, was killed when he collided with a tree at the Heavenly Ski Resort, on the Nevada-California state border, south of Reno.

Bono, 62, a Republican Congressman for California, was an avid and proficient skier. His body was found on Monday evening, two hours after he was reported missing.

Bono, who had skied at the sprawling resort for more than 20 years, was on a family holiday with his wife, Mary Whitaker, and their two children. He had skied on ahead, leaving the main trail to ski through a wooded area, when the accident happened. His wife raised the alarm when the resort closed at at 4.30pm.

Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said yesterday that Bono would be much mourned by Republicans. He spoke of his "wonderful public service career", saying he had brought to it "a unique sense of talents and understanding from his celebrity days".

His former wife, Cher, who was in London to open the Harrods January sale today, cancelled her appearance and flew to Los Angeles in order to be with the couple's daughter, Chastity, a campaigner for gay rights.

Bono's death, following so quickly after that of Kennedy, 39, who also hit a tree, sent a shiver through the skiing industry, which has attracted record numbers of British enthusiasts this season.

But despite the publicity given to these two high-profile deaths, and a perception that skiing has become progressively more dangerous, it actually claims few lives compared to other participator sports. Lethal accidents almost always happen when skiers leave safe areas.

Dr Michael Turner, chief medical adviser to the British Ski and Snowboard Federation, who has compiled statistics on the relative dangers of different sports, says that downhill skiing has an injury rate of just 2.6 per 1,000 participant days - roughly the same risk as table tennis, and half that of golf.

Rugby, on the other hand, with an injury rate of 95.7 per 1,000, and soccer, at 64.4, are far more perilous. Angling accounts for more deaths in Britain each year than any other outdoor activity - seven lives, compared to five for horse riding, five for mountaineering, three for parachuting, two for hang gliding and two for fell walking.

David Hearns, spokesman for the Ski Club of Great Britain, said the vast majority of fatal accidents occur off-piste, with about half of them caused by avalanches. The remainder take place when skiers fall off a precipice or over the edge of a ravine, or hit a tree, pylon or hut. Collisions between skiers are extremely rare.

Obituary, page 17, and David Aaronovitch, page 19

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before