Under the threat of proposed legislation that would have required New Mexico ski areas to offer rental helmets for children, ski industry officials “solved the problem” by offering rental ski helmets.
The measure would have required New Mexico resorts to offer rental helmets to any skier or snowboarder under age 18. It would not have mandated that children wear the helmets, only that they be available for rent. The measure was drafted in when it was learned by legislators that only three of New Mexico’s eight downhill ski areas–Santa Fe, Sandia Peak and Pajarito Mountain–didn’t already offer such rentals.
The three ski areas have since agreed to begin renting youth helmets and each should have rental programs in place “within the next week,” a spokesman for Ski New Mexico reported.
The proposal for youth skiers would have been less restrictive than for some other sports. A state law that took effect in 2007 requires cyclists and skateboarders under 18 to wear a helmet.
Geraldine Link, director of public policy for the National Ski Areas Association, said no states mandate youth helmets on the slopes but most ski areas nationwide offer rental helmets and many parents choose to purchase helmets for their children.
On December 30th at the Santa Fe Ski Basin area, a 10-year-old girl from Bushland, Texas, died after crashing and sliding into a tree. She wasn’t wearing a helmet; investigators said she sustained head trauma.
The National Ski Area Associaiton has a website www.lidsonkids.org which is devoted to the issue of ski helmet usage by youngsters. The NSAA gives lukewarm endorsement of helmet use with the statement “Helmet can make a difference in reducing or preventing injury from falls or other impacts. They are most effective at slower speeds. Be sure to have your child properly fitted for a helmet if you decide that he or she should wear one.”
For Colorado skiers, Colorado Ski Country USA states on its website “Helmets are also available for young skiers or adults at just about every resort.” To understand what a helmet can do for you read Ski Safety News, Winter 2005 .