Skiing with a helmet: Brits are split

31st January 2013, by Abi Butcher

Ski helmets are worn by instructors in Klosters, Switzerland

Ski helmets are worn by instructors in Klosters, Switzerland

British skiers are lagging behind their European and North American counterparts on wearing a helmet while on the snow.

Of 13,597 people who went skiing and snowboarding last season, 51% wore a helmet, while 48% chose not to, according to a poll of British travellers by website

The figures are in stark contrast to those for Switzerland, where 84 per cent of skiers and boarders wore a helmet last season, and Austria, where experts estimate between 60 and 70 per cent choose protective headgear.

And in the US, America’s National Ski Areas Association reports a 171 per cent increase in helmet usage since the 2003/2004 season, when 25 per cent of skiers and boarders wore one, compared to 67 per cent now.

Head injuries typically occur as a result of a collision with another skier or static object, impact with the snow, during a jump and accident with lifts. They often take place at high speeds. But head injuries account for less than 20 per cent of all skiing injuries — and of that 20 per cent, only a tiny proportion are classed as severe.

Although research published by the British Medical Journal shows helmets are responsible for a 35 per cent reduction of general head injuries — rising to 59 per cent among children — more research published in the US last autumn suggested that severe head injuries are on the rise.

Where to Ski and Snowboard editors Chris Gill and Dave Watts both wear helmets, and I am the latest to join the fold — donning a Dianese helmet just this year. Though having spent last week with ski patroller Philipp Imboden in Zermatt who told me he had seen many accidents where a helmet had split in two and the skier/snowboarder had walked away, I think a helmet will be a firm fixture on my head.

TripAdvisor ran the poll in November after a UK insurance company Essential Travel decided on 1 November to make helmet useage compulsory.

TripAdvisor spokesman Emma Shaw said: ““As we hit the peak ski season, many travellers will be frustrated by the potential for insurance policies to be invalid should a helmet not be worn.”

Do you wear a helmet? Have your say in our poll today.

Back to news

Recent news

Share |