11 JANUARY 1913, Page 14


[TO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] SIE,—Tbia letter is one of warning and protest, not against the winter sports now commencing in Switzerland and else- where, but against the way in which the sports are carried out, and as an antidote to the glowing letters on the subject which have appeared in recent issues of the Spectator and the Times.

These letters omit all mention of the dangers connected with these sports when not properly controlled. Therefore I wish to raise a "danger signal," to be noticed by parents and chaperons, possibly even by a few of the young people at present engaging in winter sports.

As to snow your writer says, "The snow is deep enough to fall in without hurting oneself." True, but the snow hides tree stumps and other things unsuspected by the unwary; it is also hard when much pressed down by ski. Did not a well- known public school reopen last year without its headmaster, hurt through one of these hidden causes? Also jumping on ski for beginners, even into soft snow, or going out on them alone should be absolutely forbidden; both are dangerous. Equally so are boots without nails on the frozen snow. The majority of skating rinks are solid blocks of ice built not infrequently over asphalte tennis courts ; such conditions do not conduce to a pleasant fall. The curling rinks are the same. No wonder that with such keen, bright ice and such indifferent "ice legs" falls occur. But the sport exceeding every other in danger is undoubtedly "bob-sleighing." The sleighs are

made in a very different manner from those foot-steered " bobs " of a few years back. Scientific construction has turned out a heavy, fast-running, racing machine, to whose

use must be attributed the majority of fractures and severe accidents which take place in Switzerland every season. I

own to being a sufferer myself from a bob-sleigh accident and

quote my case. Last winter four of us walked up the hill above my hotel to see the sun set behind Mont Blanc. We

returned by road in a bob sleigh. Result: ten seconds of

pleasure, an upset, a broken thigh, and twelve months mending. The truth is—and it does not seem to be properly recognized at winter sports—the conditions of ice and snow are different in Switzerland from those to which we are accustomed in England. Everything is harder, and everybody is bent on getting the maximum of pleasure in a minimum of time.

I consider a warning is necessary in the interests of winter sport, particularly as so very little is heard of winter-sport accidents. It is not to the interests of the Swiss hotel pro- prietors or of the people who cater for the winter-sport public to bring them to notice. Yet every hotel has its contingent of young and old nursing sprained ankles or wrists, twisted knees, or other hurts. Many of these minor accidents should never occur ; they are preventible if novices were warned by notices placed in the hotels, or if they were taken in charge and supervised by the members of the various sports com- mittees. Beginners should not attempt to fly or jump before they can walk or run.—I am, Sir, &c.,