Helmets will be required for Vail Resorts staff | VailDaily.com

Helmets will be required for Vail Resorts staff

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailySki instructor Sharon Dale teaches a class while wearing a ski helmet Monday on Vail Mountain in Vail, Colorado. Dale wears a helmet every day she is on the mountain.

VAIL, Colorado ” Vail Resorts employees: Put on your helmets in Vail, Colorado.

The ski company announced on Monday that beginning next season, all employees will be required to wear helmets while skiing or riding on the job at its five mountain resorts.

The new requirement is a way to promote safety by example, and was something that the resort had been discussing earlier this season, officials said.

“At Vail Resorts, the safety of our employees and guests is a top priority and we believe the time has come for us to take our commitment to safety to the next level,” said John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort. “Our employees will set the example next year for all who enjoy skiing and riding our slopes.”

The helmets will be provided to employees as part of their standard uniform. The company would need to purchase about 6,400 helmets to cover all its full-time and part-time employees, Garnsey said.

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Also, all children, ages 12 and under, taking group lessons through ski or ride school will have to wear a helmet. The helmet will become a required part of the ski and snowboard rental package offered at all of the resort’s retail and rental stores, unless a parent or legal guardian signs a waiver to decline use of the equipment.

Vail Resorts recommends that skiers of all ages and abilities wear helmets while on the mountain.

Medical professionals applauded the move and encouraged other resorts to follow suit.

According to Englewood’s Craig Hospital, which specializes in rehabilitation and research programs for traumatic brain injury patients, helmets reduce the risk of brain injury by 75 percent.

“Helmets clearly save lives and reduce long-term disabilities associated with traumatic brain injury,” said Kenny Hosack, Craig Hospital spokesperson. “It is encouraging to see the increase in helmet use over the past fifteen years.”

Local ski shops reported a dramatic rise in helmet sales in the last few weeks following the death of Natasha Richardson, a 45-year-old actress who died of brain injuries after falling on a beginner slope at a ski resort in Quebec, Canada. Richardson was not wearing a helmet.

Double Diamond Ski Shop in Lionshead sold about 75 helmets in the weeks following Richardson’s death, said manager Matt Carroll.

“We’ve got more people looking at helmets than ever. We would have sold even more, but we ran out. It’s just been crazy,” he said.

Many stores were running low on inventory toward the end of the season, so the rush for helmets cleared most stores out, said Karin Pellerito of Performance Sports in Lionshead.

Many customers came in saying they wanted to purchase a helmet after “what happened to that woman,” she said.

“We’ve been selling everything, even the demos,” Pellerito said. “One man even bought a women’s helmet, that’s how desperate he was. He figured he could cover it up with stickers.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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