Area Skiers, Boarders Consider Use of Helmets
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

Following a string of recent fatalities at New England resorts, many area skiers and snowboarders are beginning to consider whether they should include a helmet with the rest of their winter sports gear. The issue was raised by a recent Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report that urged skiers and boarders to wear helmets to help prevent head injuries from falls and collisions. Earlier this week, three skiers died in separate accidents at three New England resorts.

Unfortunately, numerous skiing-related deaths occur each year, often as a result of a skier or boarder losing control and striking an immobile object such as a tree, or colliding with another person. Many deaths are due to massive head trauma, and the CPSC argues that many deaths could be avoided by the simple use of a helmet. At D.C. area resorts, more skiers and boarders are beginning to heed this advice. D.C. area resorts are not immune to skiing accidents; there have been several fatalities at local resorts in recent years.

One DCSki reader recently tried skiing with a helmet. Although he had been skiing for years without one, he decided to start using one after suffering a concussion and rotator cuff injury while skiing at Sun Valley last season.

“My experience [wearing a helmet] last week was very good -; the helmet was very comfortable,” he asserts. “It vented well and worked all temperature ranges during the week -; from 10 degrees to 40 degrees. Kept my head comfortably warm throughout,” he adds.

This reader feels that helmets should be required for kids under 16, and should be optional, but encouraged, for anyone 16 and older.

No local resort has taken the step of requiring helmet use yet, but a local web site, DeepCreekCam, has been running a survey asking skiers and boarders how they would feel if helmets were required.

Derek Versteegen, webmaster of DeepCreekCam, sent preliminary statistics to DCSki. His survey shows that 36% of visitors would not be affected at all by such a requirement, while 50% report that it would bother them, but not their skiing. Only 14% reported that a helmet requirement would cause them to find another winter sport.

Just as a revolution in bicycle helmet design helped popularize helmets for cycling, helmets for skiing and boarding have also undergone design changes in recent years. Today, helmets are very comfortable and come in a variety of styles, eliminating old excuses about comfort and looks. More and more kids are enthusiastically donning helmets, although adults, used to skiing for years without helmets, have been somewhat slower to follow.

“Most National Ski Patrol members recommend the use of helmets for all children and adults,” writes Belle Mountain’s Ellen Leonard. “Most of us at Belle now use helmets and my son does, too,” she adds.

About M. Scott Smith

M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.

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