Ski helmets soar in popularity
Mon, Feb 17 2014 06:25
We say: Helmets are an integral part of our kit, we wouldn't dream of skiing without one!
Ski helmets soar in popularity
The use of ski helmets on the slopes has soared by 82 per cent compared to 2009 following accidents involving Michael Schumacher and Natasha Richardson
Telegraph Ski and Snowboard
By Hugh Morris
10:24AM GMT 11 Feb 2014
More than two-thirds of Telegraph Travel readers now wear a helmet on the slopes, according to a survey conducted in the wake of Michael Schumacher's crash.
In a poll of more than 1,000 skiers and snowboarders, 71 per cent said they wear a helmet, a figure which suggests a dramatic change in the attitudes of British winter sports enthusiasts. A similar poll carried out by Telegraph Travel five years ago, following the death of Natasha Richardson, the actress, who sustained a head injury at Canada's Mont Tremblant resort, found that just 39 per cent wore one.
The poll also tallies with one conducted by America's National Ski Areas Association last year, which found that 70 per cent of skiers and boarders wore protective headgear, and one carried out in Switzerland, which found that 76 per cent do so.
It comes as February half term nears, a peak week in the ski season for families, and as ABTA, an association of tour operators and travel agents, reported that British skiers were more likely than ever to wear a helmet.
A debate on whether helmets should be compulsory has raged for years, with some insurance companies refusing cover to those who go without. Some opponents to the headgear say they encourage wearers to take more risks, while others say it should be a matter of personal choice.
In January, shortly after racing driver Schumacher's off piste crash in Méribel on December 29, from which he is still in a coma, British retailers recorded a huge spike in helmet interest, with one store in Newcastle experiencing a 400 per cent increase in sales. Schumacher's helmet reportedly split in two when his head hit a rock in the French resort.
Snowsport retailers said they saw a similar surge of interest after Natasha Richardson's death. Richardson was not wearing a helmet.
Diane Bartlett, a manager at independent retailer Ski Bartlett in Hillingdon, Middlesex, said the increased in interest in helmets had been steady since the beginning of January.
She said: "We have people coming in who say they would have never thought they'd wear a helmet. I think it's partly because Schumacher had that invincible-type persona – it's a kick of reality, especially, it seems, for a lot of men.
"We're getting a lot more people willing to pay good money for a helmet. They're not coming in and asking what's the cheapest – people want to see the best. Our hat sales are down."
Victoria Bacon, head of communications for ABTA, said the organisation urges all skiers and boarders to wear a helmet. "We want people to be able to make the most of their time on the slopes and knowing you have the right kind of equipment is one less thing to worry about," she said.