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Helmet Use on the Rise

Helmet Use on the Rise

[ Mon, 2009-09-28 10:56 ]
Instructors and Students Alike Wear Helmets at Vail Ski School
Almost 50 percent of skiers and riders wear helmets on the hill

In our upcoming November issue, on stands in a couple of weeks, writer Martin Forstenzer writes about the ongoing helmet debate, including moves by some resorts -- the Vail family among them -- to require all on-hill employees to wear helmets while skiing or riding. As it turns out, helmet usage is up -- way up. According to a recent study by the National Ski Area Association, only 25 percent of skiers and riders were wearing protective headgear in the the 2002-03 season, just seven years ago. Two seasons ago, in 2007-08, that number had jumped to 43 percent. And last year, the number of folks wearing helmets had almost topped the 50 percent mark.

Over the past few seasons, SKI Magazine has gotten a number of letters asking us why so few of the skiers in our photos are wearing helmets. It's a fair cop -- helmets can save lives. As a matter of policy, we try to make sure at least half our photo subjects are wearing helmets; it's not as easy as we'd like. Thanks to the NSAA study, we now know why: While overwhelming majorities of kids under 14 and adults over 65 wear helmets, younger folks tend to eschew them. Just 32 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds choose helmets. Which leaves us with two possibilities: Have our photogs carry extra helmets while on assignment, or start running only photos of junior rippers. Considering some of the sick teenaged skiers we've seen lately, this might not be a bad idea.

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