Hospital visits spike during the holidays in Steamboat

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— One of Steamboat Ski Area’s busiest weeks of 2011 also was one of the busiest weeks for the emergency department at Yampa Valley Medical Center, which saw more patients with ski- and snowboard-related injuries last week compared to the previous holiday season.

Hospital spokeswoman Rosie Kern said Monday that 62 patients were admitted to the hospital’s emergency department Dec. 26, an increase of 11 patients from the same day last year. Sixty-one patients were admitted there Dec. 27, 14 more than last year, and 62 were admitted Dec. 30, 22 more than last year. Kern added that the majority of visits last week were for ski- and snowboard-related injuries including shoulder, hip and leg fractures.

The Denver Post last week reported that a lack of snowfall across the state and the resulting slope conditions were to blame for an increase in emergency room traffic last week near several ski resorts across the state, including in Steamboat.

Steamboat Ski Area spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said Monday that grooming crews on Mount Werner are making sure trails are in the best possible condition at a time when natural snowfall is scarce.

“The conditions are not what some people are used to,” she said. “What we are seeing now is more hard pack and a couple more obstacles. Now more than ever, we’re asking people to take responsibility when skiing and know the conditions.”

She added when more people are on the mountain, there is always a greater chance for injuries.

“It’s always a good reminder to be safe and ride with care whether it’s a huge powder day or a low snow day,” she said.

The ski area last week reported it was using a tool called the “Renovator” to improve trail conditions by mixing the top layer of manmade snow, which in some places has become slick and icy, with the natural snow underneath. There currently are 122 trails open on Mount Werner.

Skiers can view grooming reports and keep up with conditions on the mountain at www.steamboat.com/mountain.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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