Mr Bollen has found that ski-related anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries have tripled over the last 10 years, with women over the age of 40 accounting for 90% of them. The story is usually the same: a twisting injury where the bindings don't release. This often occurs at slow speed, when getting on and off chairlifts - you feel a pop or snap and immediate pain. Usually it results in the indignity of being tobogganed down.
Ski resort clinics can pressure patients to have surgery in the first 24 to 48 hours, but this isn't usually necessary unless there's an associated fracture. In fact, there's considerable evidence it's better to wait three to four weeks before having the ligament reconstructed, to avoid the complication of scar formation in the joint. Even complex knee injuries involving several ligaments can be left up to 10 to 14 days before reconstruction. A brace, crutches, regular icing and anti-inflammatories (providing there are no contraindications) will suffice until you return home, when you should get a specialist opinion urgently.
Minimise your risk through at least six to eight weeks of muscle-building training. There are plenty of ski-fitness programmes around, and leg-press machines most closely mimic the action of skiing and snowboarding. For snowboarding, wrist guards, coccyx and back protectors, and learning to fall corrrectly may help - and always wear a helmet. Knee braces have not been shown to prevent injury.
All sports have risks, and there is nothing quite like mountains, blue sky and fresh snow. If the worst comes to the worst, the Yorkshire Clinic can always put you back together!