Safety first means ski helmets are on the rise

The man who skis all day

When actress Natasha Richardson died in March 2009 after hitting her head on an icy ski slope in Canada, it sent an unequivocal message of the desirability of wearing a ski helmet – because she wasn't. The lesson of Michael Schumacher's recent accident is not so clear. True, Schumacher's French surgeon did say that without a helmet the former motor-racing World Champion might not have survived long enough to receive medical attention, but the incident also offered ammunition to those who have reservations about ski helmets.

Some in the ski community, for example, argue that there needs to be more quality testing and impact simulation for ski helmets. Others are concerned that a helmet's effectiveness can be compromised when a camera is fitted to it. And proponents of what is called the "risk compensation theory" argue that helmets may cause accidents because of the false sense of security they instil in risk-takers.

What keeps these arguments circulating is the fact that ski helmets have not proved to be statistically effective. In the US, surveys conducted by the country's National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) show the proportion of skiers and boarders wearing helmets climbing from 25 per cent in 2002/3 to 70 per cent last season. Yet during the same period, in which skier numbers have remained fairly consistent, the NSAA says "there has been no significant reduction in fatalities" (though last season's 25 deaths in US ski areas was way down the 10-year average of 39.6).

Nevertheless, in such a litigious country as the US, ski areas need to make a show of keeping their customers safe. So children are commonly required to wear helmets by resorts, and sometimes by the state: both New Jersey and California have passed legislation to that effect. Adults are generally allowed to do what they want; only across the Canadian border, in the province of Nova Scotia, does the law demand that skiers and boarders of all ages wear helmets.

But this season one US ski destination has the same requirement: only guests with helmets are allowed on to the slopes of Powder Ridge in Connecticut. "Not a typical ski resort," according to its CEO, Sean Hayes, Powder Ridge had been closed for six seasons but has re-opened as what Hayes describes as "an adventure park: one-third of the mountain is devoted to racing, another is a terrain park, and the remaining third is for beginners." For certain activities, helmets are essential, and rather than police the slopes, Hayes decided that wearing them should be mandatory. "We push the limits here with what the kids do, and we want their mums and dads to feel comfortable about that, and not have to worry."

Is everybody happy with the helmet requirement? Apparently not. "Some season-passholders have asked for refunds," Hayes says, "and we have gladly given them."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory