WEARING HELMETS IN SNOW SPORTS
2nd January 2019
Following the death of a man on the slopes in France, there’s been further sharp debate over wearing helmets. UPDATED
Accidents on the ski slopes are relativley rare, but do happen and have significant impact on those involved.
Already in 2019 a 24-year-old hit his head on a rock beside the piste and has died from his injuries.
He was not wearing a helmet.
Read on below for the full report of this accident, posted on January 2nd.
Many skiers and snowboarders have come together on the PlanetSKI Facebook page
to share their thoughts on wearing helmets, as well as experiences with or without one.
The latest comes from one of our regular readers who prefers to remain annonymous.
He sent us his comments and photo on Friday.
“I’ve just read you’re helmet article and thought I would actually send you a photo of my recently crashed helmet,” he said.
“It’s a 4 year old Salomon Ranger custom air with no prior impacts.”
However it should be pointed out that helmets are designed to break on impact – they are absorbing the force.
So the images can appear somewhat more dramtaic than they actually are.
“I was skiing over Xmas in Switzerland and had a mid-speed (20mph) fall on a flat section of compact snow, landed on the back of my head taking most of the impact from the fall.
I’m an experienced skier, 32-years old wighing 93kg and I 6ft tall. I have skied 2/3 weeks a year my whole life, lots of off piste etc.”
“Would be good if there was more research out there into the actual safety of different helmets, there are some real cheap ones out there.”
“If more people could see the actual damage the crash can do helmet take up would increase.”
“Also other readers seem to think they are wearing one for the sake of other less careful skiiers out there. Unfortunately you can see from my photo what can happen in relatively benign circustances.”
If you’re looking to buy a helmet and need some guidance on what is currently on offer, have a look at our selection of Six of the Best Ski Helmets
The argument will be ongoing but there is no sign of it being made compulsory for everyone on the slopes to wear a helmet.
Some question the level of protection they actually offer.
Many ski schools won’t take children skiing or boarding without one: some snow centres in the UK make helmets mandatory.
One PlanetSKI reader brings up a very good point:
“We all need to read our travel insurance.”
“Wearing a helmet is compulsory on mine.”
“It certainly saved me in a bad fall a couple of years ago & I could have had more than a damaged sacroiliac if I hadn’t had it on as my head hit the ice very hard.”
Do check travel insurance, as more companies and policies require helmet wearing in order to be covered.
From the comments on our Facebook page most are concerned with wearing a helmet due to the danger others pose to us, from being out of control or those risks unforeseen…
Some are under the belief that it is and should be a personal choice, but that it is also one that people make for wearing one:
Here are some reasons why helmets are better:
The opposing argument – why helmets aren’t essential equipment – is due to somehting called risk compensation.
Does it make the skier or snowboarder more reckless, take more risks due to feeling more secure?
@Steven Meare writes:
“Recent, study by a French university found risk compensation isn’t a thing at all and skiers and snowboarders wearing helmets are at a lower risk of -all- injuries.
“People wearing helmets are, apparently, more safety conscious than those that are not.”
“No shit”, writes a responding PlanetSKI reader.
@Steven Meare “Smoking is also a personal choice, that doesn’t mean it won’t negatively affect your health.”
Over recent years, even in just the last few, it has become increasingly rare to find somebody on the ski slopes without a helmet.
We’ll see if this turns into protocol, sooner or later, but now from the ski world it certainly seems like a custom.
Helmet wearing on the slopes
THURSDAY 3RD JANUARY
Read on below for the full report of this accident, posted on January 2nd.
Meanwhile skiers and snowboarders have again been discussing the wearing of helmets.
“It’s not known whether a helmet would have prevented it (note Michael Schumacher’s accident) and accidents such as this are extremely rare,” wrote one PlanetSKI Facebook user.
“How many rocks are there on pistes usually?
“I can’t say I’ve ever seen one.
“People take risks, sometimes irresponsibly.
“It is free choice whether to wear a helmet, back protector, wrist guards, thermal underwear etc. etc.
“It’s tragic yet very rare.”
On his 50th birthday – Thursday 3rd January, 2019 – we took a look at Michael Schumacher’s accident as his family celebrate his birthday:
Not denying the protection that helmets offer, but in the vein of questioning and ensuring we are properly trained and aware of risk on the mountains, to avoid accidents where possible in the great outdoors, one Facebook user wrote:
“Good examples are set by good, considerate behaviour, not by encouraging people to take risks.
“Look at the science & take evidence based decisions, not emotional ones…” a comment read.
This conversation is not a new one.
There is a wealth of material and discussion out there behind educating ourselves properly to the risks and to acknowledging and skiing within our limits, and within the limits of safety (as much as we can on the hills).
We should understand the conditions and prepare ourselves as best we can.
Others are 100% for the wearing of helmets:
PlanetSKI’s Facebook page
One follower has cited the National Institutes of Health’s guide:
Efficacy of Safety Helmets in Reduction of Head Injuries in Recreational Skiers and Sowboarders
“Traumatic head injuries from skiing and snowboarding crashes are an especially important cause of hospitalisation, fatality and long term disability and also contribute significantly to healthcare expenditures.
These injuries are potentially preventable through the use of safety helmets.
However, evidence regarding the efficacy of helmets in the reduction of head injuries and head injury-related mortality in skiers and snowboarders is counteracted by reports of the possibly deleterious effects of helmets on risk compensation behavior and neck injuries.”
WEDNESDAY 2nd JANUARY, 2019
The fatal accident that sparked the re-newed debate occurred in the French resort of Villard-de-Lans in the Isere region.
His name and nationality have not been released as next-of-kin are informed.
The accident happened in the early afternoon of New Year’s Day.
The emergency services were on the scene swiftly and tried to revive him at the scene without success.
A doctor was flown in by helicopter.
Reports say he lost control at speed and hit a rock to the side of the piste.
It is unclear whether a helmet would have saved his life or prevented serious injury.
Eric Chambon, director of the pistes in the resort expressed his condolences.
“The conditions of the snowpack were quite acceptable,” he said to the French media.
“The wearing of helmets is not yet systematic in adults …. 90% of children wear one, this is not yet the case with older people.
“When we have speed, and when we meet obstacles, the edge of the slopes, or another skier, it can be very serious, like this dramatic accident.”
An investigation is under way.
Villard-de-Lans has 29 lifts with 32 pistes and offers 125kms of slopes.
It has a vertical descent of 1,120m.
In other tragic ski news, a 17-year-old has died after falling from a chairlift in the USA.
Read more on the accident here:
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