Enjoyed by hobbyists, vacationers and professional athletes, skiing is an enthusiasm shared by a diverse selection of people. The sport can be enjoyed at any skill level, and the thrill of speeding down a slope is hard to match. However, skiing can also be very dangerous. Falls and tumbles are common, and many skiers don't realise how easy it is to collide with a tree, rock or even another skiier. Damaging the head is one of the worst injuries to sustain, and it can just as easily happen to professionals as it can to beginners.
Recent Skiing Accidents
Although it isn't compulsory in most countries to wear a helmet while skiing, it is mandatory to wear a helmet in some places, like Italy and the province of Lower Austria. The latter made ski helmets compulsory for children aged under 14 when, in 2009, a 41-year old woman was involved in a skiing collision with a German politician, Dieter Althaus. Althaus was wearing a helmet and survived, but the woman, who was not wearing one, died. The incident sparked a boost in helmet sales in Austria. In the same year, actress Natasha Richardson died from a head injury sustained from a skiing lesson in Quebec. Both of these accidents are often cited when discussing whether all resorts should make helmets compulsory, but many places still leave helmets up to the preference of the skier.
The Argument For and Against
There are critics of ski helmets. Some argue that skiers who wear a helmet are more reckless and hazardous because they feel invincible, and others feel that they are clunky and impair their skiing. However, in recent years, the design of ski helmets have been modernised, and many are sleek and fashionable while still retaining a durable construction. Despite some negative opinions, wearing a helmet can greatly reduce the likelihood of a serious head injury. It only takes one small fall to cause permanent damage, even death.
There are many budget ski helmets on the market, but even casual skiers are strongly advised to purchase a good quality helmet rather than a cheaper brand. The trade-off in safety is simply not worth the amount of money saved, and a poorly designed helmet is one that feels flimsy, ill fitting and thinly constructed. Always look for approved safety standards, like CE, ASTM or Snell certification. Popular brands like Smith, Giro and Salomon are highly regarded in the skiing community as durable, protective helmets, and they are produced for all shapes and sizes.
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