Debate over mandatory helmet wearing

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 3, 2010 1:12 pm

What do you think, dear readers? Should we wear helmets for fear of not getting a lift ticket? A certain ski area manager thinks that’s ridiculous, but many feel skiers and riders should not be admitted lift tickets if they don’t wear helmets. This report came out of the CBC News today:

“Skiers should not be forced to wear helmets when they hit the slopes, according to the manager of a New Brunswick ski hill.

Safety advocates say ski hills should refuse to sell lift tickets to those not wearing helmets.

Jason Crawford, the manager of Crabbe Mountain, said he hopes that eventually all skiers will wear helmets. But he said a mandatory helmet policy would be a step too far.

“I’d have to probably have quite a stock of helmets in the rental shop and offer them for free,” Crawford said.

“I think we have … about 500 helmets in stock, which is significant. So there would be a monetary side to that.”

Crawford said the mountain, which is near Fredericton, already has stringent helmet policies that force the protective gear to be worn by children in snow schools, racing programs or with visiting schools.

As well, all employees have to wear a helmet when they’re on the snow.

A new study from the University of Calgary found that wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding reduces the risk of head injury by 35 per cent.

Dr. Charles Tator, a neurosurgeon and the founder of Think First, a non-profit organization aimed at preventing brain and spinal injuries, said he wants ski hills to implement a “no helmet, no lift ticket” policy.

“We would like to see everybody on the hills wearing a helmet,” Tator said.

Crawford said Crabbe Mountain does offer free helmets with every rental but most adults decline them.

The hill also offers discount coupons on helmets to those not wearing them on the hill.

Canadian researchers reviewed 12 different studies on head injuries in Monday’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study reported that traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and serious injury among skiers and snowboarders.

Estimates from several countries suggest head injuries account for up to 19 per cent and neck injuries for up to four cent of all injuries reported by ski patrols and emergency departments.

But between two and five out of every 10 head injuries could be prevented by wearing helmets, the reviewers concluded.”

We’d love to hear your thoughts.