More skiers are wearing helmets on the slopes, and the youngest and oldest skiers are the ones most likely to wear protective head gear. A study by the Colorado-based National Ski Areas Association shows that nearly half of all skiers wore helmets last season, 48 percent. That’s up from a 43 percent helmet rate during the 2007-2008 ski season.
But the study suggested that young adults refuse to heed the safety message. Two-thirds of skiers and snowboarders between the ages of 10 and 14 said they wore helmets. But only about one in three skiers and boarders between the ages 18 and 24 wore helmets last season.
Very young skiers had the highest helmet rates in the survey. About 77 percent of children 9 years old and younger wore helmets. Ski workers say most children learned to ski wearing helmets and don’t mind them. Older skiers like helmets, too. The usage rate was 63 percent for adults ages 65 and older.
Vail Resorts made helmets mandatory for employees this season, and resort owner Intrawest requires helmets for all youth in ski school and students of any age in freestyle terrain parks. Intrawest operates Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Steamboat resorts in Colorado. Helmet use is still optional for most skiers, except those taking ski lessons from resorts.
Austria recently mandated that kids younger than 15 to wear protective lids on mountains there.