Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wear a helmet!

Mandatory Helmets
Vail Resorts took the lead in requiring all employees of its five mountains - Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado, and Heavenly in California - to wear helmets as part of their uniforms. In addition, all children 12 and younger in lessons must wear helmets. And the head gear will be a required part of any child's equipment rental package at all of Vail Resorts' rental and retail stores. A parent or legal guardian can sign a waiver to decline helmet use, but what parent in their right mind would do that! The company also is recommending the use of helmets for all skiers and snowboarders on its slopes.

I applaud the ski company for taking a bold stand on this safety issue. As the leading mountain resort operator in the U.S., it no doubt sets an example that I believe other resorts will follow.

What do you think? Are they going too far? Do you wear a helmet? Are you for or against mandatory helmet use? I know a lot of instructors (mostly men) who think they are invincible when I comes to protecting their noggin and will take exception to this new rule.

Could the tragic death of Natasha Richardson at Mount Tremblant in Canada have been prevented if she were wearing a helmet? Experts say helmets help prevent head injury mostly when skiers travel 12-17 MPH - fairly slowly. Richardson was in a beginner class, so chances are she was within that range.

I started wearing this helmet years ago and have never regretted it. I've taken several falls where I've hit my head hard, and really believe that my helmet prevented any kind of injury. Yes, it takes away that wind-in-your-hair sexy sensation of skiing fast, but your brain is your life, so protect it! The picture was taken on Cresta D'Arp in Italy, 2004. I was amazed at the time that few Europeans wore helmets, but I've read that recent accidents and deaths have shaken them into the realization that it's a good thing to do.