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Ski helmet

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Title: Ski helmet  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Downhill, Helmets, Skiing, Nordic combined, Glade skiing
Collection: Helmets, Skiing Equipment, Snowboarding
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Ski helmet

A typical ski helmet (left) and paragliding helmet

A ski helmet is a helmet specifically designed and constructed for winter sports. Use was rare until about 2000, but by about 2010 the great majority of skiers and snowboarders in the US and Europe wear helmets.[1] Helmets are available in many styles, and typically consist of a hard plastic/resin shell with inner padding. Modern ski helmets may include many additional features such as vents, earmuffs, headphones, goggle mounts, and camera mounts.


  • Risks 1
  • Usage of helmets 2
  • Standards and testing 3
  • Effects 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6


In terms of injuries per 1,000 skier or snowboarder days, Switzerland reports around 3.5, Norway 1.5, Vermont USA 1.9, and Canada 2.5.[1] The death rate in the US is about one per million visits.[2] of which more than half are related to head injuries.[1]

Studies from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway and Canada show that the proportion of head injuries is estimated at 15% for ski injuries and 16% for snowboard injuries.[1] 74% of head injuries occur when skiers hit their head on the snow, 10% when they collided with other skiers, and 13% when they collided with fixed objects.[3]

Usage of helmets

Germany, Austria, and Switzerland report 40%, 63%, 76% helmet wearing rates respectively. Switzerland reports a 95% helmet wearing rate among children. In France 65% of children wear helmets.[1] In the 2012-2013 ski season, 70 percent of all skiers and snowboarders wore helmets, up 5% from the previous season.[2] Helmets are compulsory for children in Italy and Austria, in the US state of New Jersey and at Vail Ski Resort in the US,[4] and for all in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia and some other areas such as terrain parks.[5]

Standards and testing

Product certification norms include the European CE standard CEN 1077, issued in 1996, The American Society of Testing and Materials F2040, and the Snell RS-98.[5] CEN 1077 permits an impact speed of about approx 20 km/h, which is far below average skiing speeds.[1] Helmets are tested for effectiveness at about 14 mph (23 km/h), but the typical maximum speed of skiers and snowboarders is approximately twice that speed, with some participants going much faster. At such speeds, impact with a fixed object is likely to be fatal regardless of helmet use. By contrast, in an impact with icy snow wearing a helmet might be the difference between a minor head injury and a significant or life-threatening head injury.[6]


A meta-analysis, mostly of case-control studies, showed that skiers and snowboarders with a helmet were significantly less likely than those without a helmet to have a head injury.[7] However, Swiss statistics on rescue services provided to people injured in snow sports show a fairly constant proportion of head injuries while the observed rate of helmet wearing increased from 16% in 2002-3 to 76% in 2009-10.[1][8]

Helmets have not been shown to reduce the number of fatalities. According to Dr. Jasper Shealy. "We are up to 40 percent usage but there has been no change in fatalities in a 10-year period."[9][10]

It is not known whether helmet use results in risk compensation, i.e. skiers and snowboarders behaving less cautiously when they feel protected by a helmet, as studies give conflicting results. One study found that helmeted skiers tend to go faster[11] and helmet-wearing has been associated with self-reports of more risky behavior.[12] Other studies find that helmet use is not associated with self-reports of riskier behavior[13][14] and does not increase the risk of other injuries.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Policy briefing: Snow sports helmets". Fédération Internationale des Patrouilles de Ski. European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Facts About Skiing/Snowboarding Safety" (PDF) (Press release). National Ski Areas Association. October 1, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ Greve, Mark W.; Young, David J.; Goss, Andrew L.; Degutis, Linda C. (2009). "Skiing and Snowboarding Head Injuries in 2 Areas of the United States". Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 20 (3): 234–8.  
  4. ^ Carrig, Blaise; Garnsey, John (April 13, 2009). "Vail resorts to require helmets for all on-mountain staff when skiing, riding next season". RealVail. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Helmets". Ski Club of Great Britain. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Shealy, Jasper E.; Johnson, Robert J.; Ettlinger, Carl F. (2006). "Do Helmets Reduce Fatalities or Merely Alter the Patterns of Death?". In Moritz, Eckehard Fozzy; Haake, Steve. The Engineering of Sport 6. pp. 163–7.  
  7. ^ Russell, Kelly; Christie, Josh; Hagel, Brent E. (2010). "The effect of helmets on the risk of head and neck injuries among skiers and snowboarders: A meta-analysis". Canadian Medical Association Journal 182 (4): 333–40.  
  8. ^ Niemann S, Fahrni S, Hayoz R, Brügger O, Cavegn M. STATUS 2009: Statistics on non-occupational accidents and the level of safety in Switzerland. Bern: bfu-Swiss. Council for Accident Prevention; 209
  9. ^ Fletcher Doyle (4 March 2008). "Use your head on the ski slopes" (PDF). The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  10. ^ Jasper E. Shealy, Robert J. Johnson, and Carl F. Ettlinger. On Piste Fatalities in Recreational Snow Sports in the U.S. Journal of ASTM International vol. 3 no.5. In: Jasper E. Shealy, T. Yamagishi. Skiing Trauma and Safety: Sixteenth volume. Accessed 16 November 2014
  11. ^ Shealy, JE; Ettlinger, CF; Johnson, RJ (2005). "How Fast Do Winter Sports Participants Travel on Alpine Slopes?". Journal of ASTM International 2 (7): 12092.  
  12. ^ Ružić, Lana; Tudor, Anton (2011). "Risk-taking Behavior in Skiing Among Helmet Wearers and Nonwearers". Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 22 (4): 291–6.  
  13. ^ a b Ruedl, G; Pocecco, E; Sommersacher, R; Gatterer, H; Kopp, M; Nachbauer, W; Burtscher, M (2010). "Factors associated with self-reported risk-taking behaviour on ski slopes". British Journal of Sports Medicine 44 (3): 204–6.  
  14. ^ Scott, Michael D; Buller, David B; Andersen, Peter A; Walkosz, Barbara J; Voeks, Jennifer H; Dignan, Mark B; Cutter, Gary R (2007). "Testing the risk compensation hypothesis for safety helmets in alpine skiing and snowboarding". Injury Prevention 13 (3): 173–7.  

Further reading

  • McIntosh, Andrew Stuart; Andersen, Thor Einar; Bahr, Roald; Greenwald, Richard; Kleiven, Svein; Turner, Michael; Varese, Massimo; McCrory, Paul (2011). "Sports helmets now and in the future". British Journal of Sports Medicine 45 (16): 1258–65.  
  • Hoshizaki, T Blaine; Brien, Susan E (2004). "The science and design of head protection in sport". Neurosurgery 55 (4): 956–66; discussion 966–7.  
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