A-Z of Skiing: H is for Helmets

A CRASH helmet is now standard for children. Ellis Brigham stores have added helmets to their rental service because schools are making them compulsory for under-10s on ski trips; the same company reports that virtually 100 per cent of parents buying skis for children also buy a helmet. And in some resorts they are necessary: in Scandinavia, for example, lift-passes are free for children - provided they are wearing a helmet.

A CRASH helmet is now standard for children. Ellis Brigham stores have added helmets to their rental service because schools are making them compulsory for under-10s on ski trips; the same company reports that virtually 100 per cent of parents buying skis for children also buy a helmet. And in some resorts they are necessary: in Scandinavia, for example, lift-passes are free for children - provided they are wearing a helmet.

But for adults, it's a different story. The recent deaths of Michael Kennedy and Sonny Bono highlighted the issue of whether adults should also wear helmets, and last year's Good Skiing Guide campaigned for their use.

Drawing a parallel with the growing use of safety helmets by cyclists in London, the guide was "confident that skiing and snowboarding will follow the same pattern". But Snow+Rock, which offers four types of adult helmet (from £69.95 to £129.95) in its retail catalogue, was unable to report much evidence of this, revealing only that sales were "in double figures".

In a debate in US Ski magazine, both sides agreed that the deaths of Kennedy and Bono - caused by collisions with trees - would not have been prevented by helmets; and the pro-lobbyist accepted that "the risk of a catastrophic head-injury [while] skiing is statistically infinitesimal".

With odds like that, it seems that hard-headed British adults don't feel the case for helmet-wearing has really been made.

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