Mountain Pulse: Helmet usage increases across US ski resorts
Skiing or snowboarding responsibly is a skier or snowboarder’s first priority. Helmets are a second line of defense.
Helmets do have limitations and provide the most protection at slower speeds.
Helmets should not give you a false sense of security and do not allow you to take more risks.
For kids, parents should ensure that the helmet is properly fitted and the chin strap is fastened
For more information, visit http://www.lidsonkids.com.
Source: National Ski Areas Association
EAGLE COUNTY — Some call them hard hats; others call them brain buckets. Whatever the term, helmets are proving to be hip across the nation.
According to the National Ski Areas Association, helmet usage has increased for the 13th straight year, from 25 percent of skiers and snowboarders using helmets in 2002 to 78 percent this past season.
But that’s not everyone.
“We basically stick to the greens, so we didn’t feel the need to rent the helmet,” said Kenny Bryant, who was skiing Tuesday at Beaver Creek with his wife, Leann.
“We’re very cautious, and when I wear helmets, it makes my neck sore,” Leann said.
Ham Ramsay, of New Orleans, has been skiing for more than 30 years. He said he’s worn a helmet before, but prefers a hat on his head.
“I haven’t found one I particularly like,” Ramsay said. “It’s not good when you fall, though. It’s a bad thing not to wear a helmet.”
According to the National Ski Areas Association study, 97 percent of skiers and snowboarders ages 9 and younger wore helmets this past season.
“I haven’t worn a helmet until two years ago,” said Patrick Early, of Rockford, Illinois. “When my daughter started skiing, I said there’s no way I’m going to convince her to wear a helmet unless I wear one.”
While New Jersey is the only state to require helmets for those younger than 18, it has been a community effort getting helmets on everyone.
“Ski areas have done an incredible job of encouraging helmet use,” said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association. “The resorts, parents, local medical groups — even the tremendous improvements by helmet manufacturers to enhance helmet design and comfort — all these factors have helped grow helmet usage.”
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LEARNING THE HARD WAY
For some, it takes one good wipeout and the helmet immediately seems like a good idea.
Tim and Dave Prinzbach, of Buffalo, New York, have been riding for 16 and 21 years, respectively. They both were snowboarding at Vail through the park at Golden Peak on Wednesday, with their helmets on.
“I started out not wearing one at first,” Dave said. “And then you take a couple of bad spills and realize how important it is.”
Hitting the jumps and rails in the park is a prime place for helmets, as big air can lead to big crashes.
“I feel so much more comfortable when I’m riding the park with a helmet on,” Tim said.
Barron Wolfe, of Ridgewood, New Jersey, had a coming-to-the-light moment when an older skier told him on a lift the importance of wearing helmets. Wolfe wasn’t wearing one, and five minutes after speaking with the skier he had his worst fall of the season. He rode straight down to the bottom and bought the helmet he continues to wear now.
“I always advocate for wearing a helmet, especially if you’re going hard,” Wolfe said.
According to the National Ski Areas Association study, the Northeast and Rocky Mountain regions lead the country in total helmet usage. The increased usage of helmets across the nation has proven to reduce all head injuries, especially potentially serious head injuries.
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.