My Skid Lid — A Guest Blogger’s Take on Helmets


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Rob and that Easy Rider helmet.

Rob and that Easy Rider helmet.

Shop for a new ski helmet.
Sometimes my wife argues that a brain injury in my case would be a minor problem, especially when she notices the number of randonnee ski setups on the rack in the garage. Ha! But seriously, I have seen enough trauma and death from head injuries to make me want to protect my head while skiing or doing various other activities that could bash my noggin, you’re head will thank you…

I recently finished a two day course about trauma for my RN job. The chapter in the book about head injury got my attention. And of course, I often relate things in my life to randonnee skiing and then really focus! So here goes.

In the early 1990s I decided that wearing a helmet while skiing in-area was a good idea. At that time I started wearing my classic fiberglass climbing helmet while skiing and patrolling on hard snow days. My decision came from seeing that quite a few of the serious fly-out injuries in the ski area were head injuries. It really got my attention to see some skiers fall on a blue square groomer and incur a head injury involving at least EMS transport and hospital evaluation, sometimes worse.

We saw many more serious head injuries during periods of hard refrozen Cascade snow. A 35 to 40 degree slope covered with “white asphalt” is quite unforgiving if one falls and goes for a slide, especially if the ride involves rocketing downslope into trees or rocks.

In 1998 I left my somewhat heavy fiberglass climbing helmet at home during a ski of the Cannon Mountain couloir up the Icicle Valley above Leavenworth (Washington). The steep entrance was a bit firm, and as I looked down the spectacular line with the granite wall-book to the right I longed for a helmet.

Luckily we had a safe and near-perfect corn ski run after negotiating the firm snow on the start. Even so, I soon shopped for lighter helmets and found the Grivel Mont Blanc with the cool Easy Rider graphics. I bought it, thinking that it was so light that I would not leave it at home, and I have worn it while randonnee skiing and lift skiing ever since.

One ultimate tragic experience in my life was watching my climbing partner Don fall backward from an unroped scramble, hit the slope 75 ft. below, then cartwheel and roll down a steep heather slope to his death. That morning at my cabin, I had handed Don a helmet and said that I thought we should wear helmets even though it was just a short 5.7 climb. I explained to him that there had been a tragic climber death from head injury in the local area that summer from a relatively minor fall. The victim wasn’t wearing a helmet.

The day I was with Don we had not donned our helmets since we were scrambling up to the base of the wall to start the roped climb. After the fall, the helmet on the back of Don’s backpack was scratched and green-stained from the vegetation. Since that awful day I have pondered whether Don would have survived had he been wearing that helmet, and after watching the fall and assessing his injuries, I believe he would have had a chance.

But even with a helmet you’ve got to be realistic. For example, one would gain protection from a helmet if one otherwise moderates behavior and speed — knowing there is a limit to that protection. I did observe on one occasion a man who fell into a tree-well headfirst while snowboarding. He was wearing a nice snowsports helmet, but the fall broke his neck and he died.

Via Google I found several articles affirming helmet use by skiers. From National Ski Areas Association:

“According to Jasper Shealy, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., who has studied ski related injuries for more than 30 years, recent research has shown that the use of a helmet reduces the incidence of any head injury by 30 to 50 percent, but that the decrease in head injuries is generally limited to the less serious injuries such as scalp lacerations, mild concussions (Grade I) and contusions to the head, as opposed to more serious injuries such as concussions greater than Grade II, skull fractures, closed head injuries and the like…Most fatalities are due to multiple causes or injuries. Approximately two-thirds of those who die who do not use a helmet have as the first cause of death some injury to the head. For those who die while wearing a helmet, only about one-third have a head injury as the first cause of death. It seems that while the use of a helmet may shift the distribution of the first cause of death, it is not sufficient to reduce the overall rate of death. In incidents leading to death, it appears that the severity of the incident simply overwhelms the ability of the helmet to prevent death.”

There are many more sources of information detailing the advantages of skiing with helmets from sources such as WebMD, Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Medical Association, and many more. I was impressed by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Position:

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recognizes the severity of injuries associated with skiing and recommends the use of helmets and protective headgear for recreational skiing and snowboarding.

Thus, I’m convinced one may significantly reduce the incidence and/or the severity of head injury if a helmet is worn while skiing. And along with helmet use, if one controls speed and behavior then serious and fatal injury may be easily avoided.

But the paragraph in my trauma CE book that really caught my attention was the description of postconcussive syndrome: “Postconcussive syndrome may manifest immediately after the injury or may not occur until several days or months after head trauma. Symptoms typically resolve over several weeks but may persist for extended periods of time” Listed signs and symptoms for postconcussive syndrome include persistent headache, dizziness, nausea, memory impairment, attention deficit, irritability, insomnia, impaired judgment, loss of libido,anxiety, depression (Emergency Nurses Association. Trauma Nursing Core Course Provider Manual. Sixth Edition. 2007).

The point is that one may incur even a relatively minor head injury while skiing, may get up, shake it off, walk away with some memory loss, pain and other symptoms. However, one also may incur the above-described post concussive syndrome (or worse) and have a significant and lengthy interruption of normal activities including employment and other things that provide a good quality of life. Hence, I wear my helmet while randonnee skiing. Why not? I wouldn’t want to lose the ability to name the exact length and serial number for every ski on that garage rack!

Shop for a new ski helmet.

Comments

43 Responses to “My Skid Lid — A Guest Blogger’s Take on Helmets”

  1. Tucker November 14th, 2008 1:29 pm

    I started wearing a helmet for safety, and quickly discovered one important fact: you’re warmer when you’re wearing a helmet. Skiing in VT as I do, this is a mighty big argument for wearing a helmet.

    Now I wouldn’t go back, but not because of safety, soley because you’re more comfortable wearing a helmet.

    This year I’ve gotten a Giro Remedy S full-face, after reading some fairly horrific stories about injuries while tree-skiing. I look forward to being wamer than ever on those cold lift rides.

  2. Clyde November 14th, 2008 1:42 pm

    The reality is that ski helmets (and bike and climbing) do very little to prevent or reduce the severity of concussions. The best helmet for that are the multi-impact skate helmet, which use a softer foam. If you look at the technology in modern football helmets, you’ll quickly realize that even skate helmets have a long way to go. Since no ski helmet works in high-speed collisions, the reduction of TBI should be a higher priority. Yet consumers have been sold a fanciful story about current ski helmets.

    Can’t help but wonder if the first skier death this season, was the result of wearing a helmet. Would he have decided to ski that same run if he’d have discovered he’d left the bucket in the car? We’ll never know. But too much faith in cheap foam is a prescription for disaster. Better to think of a helmet as a nice hat than something that will save you.

  3. Marcin-PL November 14th, 2008 1:56 pm

    Are climbing helmets OK for BC and off-piste skiing? I recently purchased a BD Half Dome, as I was told it was an acceptable compromise between safety and price.

  4. Justin November 14th, 2008 1:57 pm

    I agree there isnt great evidence that ski helmet use reduces the severity of traumatic brain injury, but I would be willing to bet they reduce the number of very mild concussions (or just goose eggs on the head), cuts to the head or face, and just pain without serious injury from whacking your head on something. That being said, I usually dont wear a helmet when touring due to the inconvenience but I always wear one when at a ski area. Saying a death was due to wearing a helmet is very misleading. The helmet had nothing to do with it. In the case you present the skiers judgement (or mis-judgement) about what level of safety a helmet provided him might have contributed to the accident but blaming the helmet is not accurate. Its not like the helmet itself hurt him.

  5. Chris November 14th, 2008 2:22 pm

    Every year the helmet debate rears it’s ugly head (pun intended). I wear a helmet because I want to reduce my risk of serious injury, I use my head /reasoning to prevent death. A helmet doesn’t protect you from death any more than a beacon does but you don’t leave the parking lot without one.

  6. Gary November 14th, 2008 2:49 pm

    Here, here to Tucker and Chris. They are comfortable, warm and a resonable aid in injury prevention. They’ll work to the extent of the brain inside.

  7. Scott November 14th, 2008 2:52 pm

    Helmets are good protection for a very specific impact, but I think it’s very important to remember that they won’t save you in many, many cases. If you wrap yourself around a tree and break your spine there’s nothing the helmet can do. Yes, it’s good to have protection, but nothing is a substitute for caution and common sense.

    That said, I never, ever ski trees without my helmet. My main worry isn’t colliding the trees, it’s protecting my head from low-hanging branches (I’m 6’2″ and my skiing buddies are all 5’7″ or shorter…they ski through a lot of stuff I have problems fitting through).

  8. Colin November 14th, 2008 4:06 pm

    The visor on my Giro G10 MX does well to keep branches from scratching my goggles. And I think it’s prevented a couple of head-to-ice encounters from being more serious. But I’ve read enough of Clyde’s old helmet rants on TTips, and then done my own research, to know that my helmet is only relatively superficial protection. I will admit to not wanting to ski quite as fast without it though. Something I try to remember and keep in my mind for sure.

  9. Michael November 14th, 2008 4:14 pm

    Last season there was a day I was very glad to have my helmet. I was skiing through a treed slope that hadn’t frozen overnight. When I came out of the trees, the snow was frozen and had some snowmobile tracks frozen in. As I crossed the tracks, I lost control, fell, and my head slammed into the “white asphalt.” From the sound of the impact, I was sure I injured myself. I ended up with a few minor scratches on my face, my goggles even survived. I am sure I would have at least had a concussion without the helmet. I think it is always a good idea to wear one.

  10. dave downing November 14th, 2008 4:56 pm

    A couple notes from my soapbox. I have had both ski and bike helmets turn a fall that would have rendered me unconscious into little more than a forgotten detail of a great day. Clyde’s statement “The reality is that ski helmets (and bike and climbing) do very little to prevent or reduce the severity of concussions” seems to be little more than a justification to not wear a helmet.

    I had read one report that one of the helmets biggest strengths was not in it’s ability to absorb an impact as much as the confidence it gave the user. Not kodak courage, but in the moment before impact, the user typically will not crane there head back and away from a tree or ground, leaving the neck in a vulnerable position, ripe for breakage. Instead the head stays more forward and better takes an impact.

    Regardless of saving your life, a helmet WILL let you ski all day when a beanie will not.

  11. Cameron November 14th, 2008 5:14 pm

    Thank you for posting this article. Having suffered multiple concussions (all but 1 from snowboarding) it is great to see more articles and awarness about it. I definitely think there is a balance between the protection a helmet affords and changing your behaviour. I know that personally, my helmet has prevented many more serious head injuries for me. Especially snowboarding, where you suffer so many glancing blows to the head, a helmet can protect against mild concussions.

    What though does everyone wear for backcountry skiing? I find that my resort helmet is quite clunky and heavy and would cause me to overheat on the uphill. Would I be better using my climbing helmet? Are there better backcountry skiing helmet alternatives?

  12. concussion_boy November 14th, 2008 5:31 pm

    You wouldn’t want to loose the ability to spell either ;)

  13. Randonnee November 14th, 2008 5:39 pm

    Good points Clyde, I tried to say that a helmet has a limited range of protection. I believe it to be useful, however. Perhaps you and I could test the theory. Perhaps we cold stand side-by-side, me wearing my supposedly carbon-added foam helmet with a cool plastic shell, you with just your ski hat, and allow one strike of a hammer each to our noggin. I wonder how my pretty helmet would stand up compared to your ski hat? There is some degree of value in protecting one’s head, but I agree that there is a limit to that protection.

  14. Ethan November 14th, 2008 5:54 pm

    Helmets are designed around meeting a specific testing standard and it is a catastrophic test for nearly all helmets. Skiing has ASTM, EN, and Snell standards which are all a little different but state that a helmet attached to a 5 kg humanoid shaped test head that when impacted at about 6.6 m/s (14.7 mph)must transmit no more than 300 g’s (250 for EN 1077) to the sensor buried in the test head. There is considerable controversy about the thresholds which are generally based on human (alive and dead) and animal testing done in the past (Wayne State Tolerance Curves and JARI Human Head Impact Tolerance Curves). The research is done by car manufacturers (why A pillars are padded), helmet manufactures, the military to see how these thresholds correlate to real world experience. It turns out for nearly everyone that an impact of 400g’s is not good, you won’t wake up from that. 300 is a point at which the risk of death becomes non zero on a probability curve. The other part of the testing standard is passing a penetration test, a conically pointed steel missile dropped 3 feet onto a helmet. That seems pretty real when skiing down through the trees.
    So what does this mean? Well, I choose wear a helmet for all outdoor sports, a 14.7 mph impact is really not that fast. I would rather protect from the catastrophic event and take my chances with a less severe injury. Recovery from a brain injury is possible, recovery from a dirt nap is not.

  15. Matt Kinney November 14th, 2008 6:03 pm

    Thanks Rob. Your endorsement of wearing a helmet is excellent, I always wear one for the ride down no matter the terrain diffulties or lack of. I generally am more concerned of catching an edge and hitting my noggin than getting caught in a slide. I tell my clients that I can help them if they break a leg but there is little I can do if there brain is hanging out of their skull.

    Any luck with a Wapiti…?.

  16. Lou November 14th, 2008 6:17 pm

    Sorry about the author being set to Lou today. Rob is the author, and it’s now fixed to show his name and photo correctly.

  17. Lou November 14th, 2008 6:37 pm

    Matt, as of today I’m the world’s worst elk hunter, and we’ll leave it at that. (grin).

  18. Erik November 14th, 2008 7:09 pm

    I would like to say that all the helmet wearer’s comments are basically correct.

    That being said, I would like to encourage everyone to remember to allow everyone to figure this out at their own pace.

    If you are skiing with a guy, possibly me, who does not have a helmet on, but in all other areas appears competent, give that person the grace to enjoy a wonderful day of skiing without having to spend the day’s conversation defending his gear. Once you are out there, as long as you are not being dangerous and as long as you are not endangering anyone, it’s nice to be able to enjoy yourself “as-is.” This argument can also be applied to the following:

    - tele v. alpine touring
    - light gear v. heavy gear
    - etc…..

    I like reading about these things on Lou’s site, but don’t care much for discussing them all day in the backcountry.

    Again, great point, but it reminded me to make this point as well :)

  19. Dongshow November 14th, 2008 7:12 pm

    Saw an interesting land use proposal today Lou.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

  20. Lou November 14th, 2008 7:34 pm

    Erik, I’ll second that emotion. One thing I’ve tried to do over the past years is to talk less about gear while out in the backcountry, and talk more about snow, safety, family, fun, etc. And here at WildSnow, this is indeed the gear time of year, so we wallow in it and have fun.

  21. Colin November 15th, 2008 2:22 am

    dongshow,

    Interesting blog entry. Not surprising that the author is a “law and economics” professor at George Mason U. (perhaps the best-known “libertarian” school in the country… even more so maybe than U. Chicago Law). I may send that link to one of my law school profs and get his take. He was Solicitor at Interior under Clinton.

    My initial take on it is… some of that land may have mucho real estate value and not much ecological value, but then some of it may have mucho real estate value and mucho ecological value (or recreational value). Making blanket statements about the West from DC suburbs is… well… you get what I’m saying. It’s quite typical of the stereotypical libertarian mindset to see things in black and white and not think of the nuances and negative externalities. I think some of the concept has merit, but I’m inclined to treat public land sales with at least some degree of mistrust (see Nevada’s sales for some sketchy dealing). Anyway….

  22. Samo November 15th, 2008 9:50 am

    Hi, Lou!
    After a long time i speak again – actually question.
    Here in Slovenia, almost no one ski and tour with dynafit, i dont know whay maybe thay just want to be fitter :).
    Ok question, I have Heads m88(175) skis, and i would like to mount dynafits on, but i m not sure. So what do you guys think? I already have Vertical Lite at home, is more safe to put on Dynafit FT-12 or maybe fritschi? I do alot of steep skiing (50 degrees) and i need lateral stiffness, so as i read deflection test and Lou’s answers under blogs , dynafit is just right for it.
    But i sometime do a cliff huck or a jump in park. I have Axon boots (great boots). Thenks for all your help.
    Samo
    PS: Lou, your http is super great. i regulary check your blogs specially gear tests and it is very usefull.

  23. Dave November 15th, 2008 9:50 am

    I always wear a helmet when I ski, it keeps my head warm and makes me feel safer. I always wear a helmet when i ride my mtn bike too. nuff said.

  24. Lou November 15th, 2008 9:53 am

    Samo, I’d mount them with your Dynafit Vertical and give it a try.

  25. Sean November 15th, 2008 11:48 am

    I’m a little unsure what Clyde is trying to say. His arguments about football helmets vs bike & ski helmets are irrational. Football is conducted at the speeds of 4-5 mph, human running speeds. Cycling accidents can involve speeds of 30-35 mph, skiing even faster.

    If Clyde wants to skip wearing a helmet when he rides his bike or skis, that’s his choice.

    I find this discussion on helmets tends to reveal a number of factually incoherent rationales used by those who strike me as people who imagine themselves guardians of a bizarre type of personal liberty. To Clyde I would say, don’t worry Clyde. I’m not trying to make you wear a helmet.

    But I’ll keep wearing mine, because I’ve had many MTB wrecks and ski crashes where my helmet helped.

  26. Ethan November 15th, 2008 12:35 pm

    It turns out that forward speed has very little to do with the severity of the impact to a helmet during an accident. The vertical component of the impact is the one that does the damage. This makes sense in the real world experience, think about a bicycle crash or skiing crash, self preservation usually results in arms or other body parts breaking the fall. During crashes that vertical component of the impact is usually quite small, there is a lot of sliding and moving close to the ground before the head makes impact. The Hurt Report and COST study of many real world motorcycle fatalities showed the vast majority occured at or below 30 mph and only one or two occured at speeds above 80 mph. The new proposed football helmet standard has an energy input that is almost double what the energy input is for skiing and cycling. Forward velocity does not equal higher head impact levels.
    I think it is great that people are free to ski with the wind in their hair, it is their choice. At the end of the day if helmets did not work then they would not be sold, especially in our country of litigation.

  27. Randonnee November 15th, 2008 1:30 pm

    For skiing, my superlight climbing helmet is a compromise that allows comfort, versatility, and a margin of protection that i consider to be useful. I can layer underneath it and actually have learned how to wear it comfortably all day, while climbing and while descending. I use a bike helmet sweat management skull cap only on the climb and descent most of the time. When colder or windy or on my snowmobile, I wear a light balaclava beneath the helmet and goggles. My Gore Tex parka hood and Primaloft parka hood both fit over my helmet while sitting on the summit with a cup of tea. To develop the system to allow me to just wear my helmet all day instead of on and off makes it much more enjoyable and carefree.

    In consideration of possible trauma that I would accidentally inflict on myself I think it more likely that head impact would be secondary. If I just go head-on into a tree or rock at speed, it is just my day to die. As I described, however, I will probably slide or bounce and my head may glance off of something solid, and I believe that the helmet that I have chosen to wear will give useful protection.

    Other advantages are that my helmet is waterproof, great for the PNW forest and weather, and also it is nice to duck my helmet to take the hit of branches while skiing.

    Modern motocross/ X-Games riders that I see on TV wear a chest protector that has an integral rim that mates with the rim of a full-face helmet. I found it easily on Google, the Leatt-Brace™ prophylactic neck protector http://www.leatt-brace.com/index.php?page_id=43&id=3 . That would be the ultimate protection and something that I would want if I were sending my body against gravity at high speed either skiing or on two wheels. After seeing it, I have actually mused about trying to wear while mountain biking one of the relatively inexpensive C-collars used for c-spine immobilization. I probably will not, since I try to manage my mountain bike speed in mind of the speed at which I am actually willing to hit the ground or a solid object.

    Rob

  28. Fernando November 15th, 2008 4:20 pm

    @cameron: “Are there better backcountry skiing helmet alternatives?” I like the C.A.M.P. Pulse, which Lou reviewed a while ago.

  29. Magnus November 15th, 2008 8:03 pm

    I find some of the arguments as to not wear a helmet a bit hard to swallow. I don’t think waring a helmet impair someones judgement, and I agree with what Sean says about personal choice.

    Someone compared it to skiing without a beacon… well, if someones skis without a beacon, my life can depend on it. If they ski without a helmet, it’s their problem if something happens but I would probably hate myself if I hadn’t recommended using one and something did happen.

    I started using helmets for skiing about 8 years ago. The benefits were many; I could brace my head while skiing through branches without getting smacked, when I fell, my helmet and goggles stayed on and didn’t get filled with snow and small blows to the head wasn’t a big deal and didn’t terminate my ski day.

    Last day of the season this year was ‘retro ski day’ and thus I left my Giro Mx in the car as it wasn’t really retro. While skiing backwards (not that good at it) at very slow speed I hooked an edge and fell on my ass and knocked the back of my head on the slope. I tried to get up but it felt like a knockout and I couldn’t move. My friends later told me I was lying there for quite some time struggling and they also said that we after that skied a whole run that I couldn’t account for.
    I got a small concussion from that minuscule fall and it occurred to me how many of those I’ve escaped in the past just from wearing a helmet – for biking and skiing and climbing. Small impacts like that won’t kill ya, but a few of those can leave you with the brain capacity and coordination skills of an ex pro-boxer.

  30. Sean November 16th, 2008 11:57 am

    I prefer to take the statistical massaging away and relate it more simply. I wear a helmet to protect my head. It’s that simple. In my athletic life I have played plenty of football and lacrosse (both high-contact sports where you hit others, others hit you, and you hit the turf), ridden motocross, ridden MTBs, skateboarded and skied. In all those activities I’ve had bell-ringing concussions from collisions and accidents. I’ve also taken falls of similar types at similar speeds when not wearing a helmet.

    The only times I’ve had injury to my head requiring medical care (sutures, etc) have been when I’ve fallen or crashed while **not** wearing a helmet. That’s good enough for me. I know I’ll fall again when I ski and when I ride my mountain bike, and I’d like to be prepared for it.

  31. David November 16th, 2008 1:41 pm

    There is a fallacy that there can be a minor or small concussion. All concussions should be considered a serious injury. Losing moment in time after hitting ones head means the brain has suffered direct trauma and after a while this can add up, resulting in memory loss and reduced brain function. Helmets do provide protection for these types of injuries and are worth wearing just for that reason.

  32. Dave Ford November 16th, 2008 2:15 pm

    If you are an aggressive off-piste skiier then you need to wear a helmet. Bombing through a steep stand of birches, or descending a super technical/rockey chute can render a skiier or rider brain dead by making the slightest mistake.

    I bought my first helmet anbout 8 years ago. I was on my first trip out west and I was bombing through the trees in the Xmas Tree Bowl at Steamboat. It kinda just dawned on me as to what would happen if I lost control and hit a tree. I don’t wanna end up like Sonny Bono.

    I now wear a giro 9 and it is the lightest most comfortable piece of head gear I have ever worn skiing. No more itchy hats!!!

  33. Chase Harrison November 17th, 2008 9:50 am

    This has nothing to do with brain buckets. It does have everything to do
    with skiing. Just got back from Alta/Snowbird. They have over 60 inches.
    Skied Snowbird on Friday. It was ok. Pretty hard and icy twards the bottom.
    Limmited steeps open from the top. Sat. was opening day at Alta. One word
    EPIC! 70% of the moutain was open. They had 3 lifts running. Collins, Sugar
    Loaf, Sunny Side. Deep soft snow every where. What away to start the season.
    It was worth the 7 hour drive. OB is stll pretty limited but thats ok because
    inbounds was really good.

  34. joe November 17th, 2008 9:58 am

    slammed my head on a road on the final run of the day couple yrs ago, popped right up but kept asking what happened- spent the night in the hospital as a result and have no real memory of the incident…
    & I was wearing a helmet so who knows what could’ve been the result without
    only had 2 kids then but have 4 now so I’ll keep wearing one…
    however if it were just me I don’t think I would, its the whole “one more thing” of it all, if it’d fit in my pocket I’d be happier & minus that one incident I’d done pretty well for 30yrs skiin /flawed logic at best…
    I agree I duck less for lil branches and such now, and it doesn’t bug me inbounds just when Im going uphill or otherwise stashing it somewhere

    maybe the best reason to wear one inbounds is if someone hits you who IS wearing one…

  35. jerimy November 17th, 2008 10:22 am

    I wear a helmet when skiing, especially since most of my skiing is done in the trees. Besides the increasing trend of helmets in skiing, I have noticed that some skiers are now wearing mouth pieces as well. I can see this helping to prevent concussions and dental injuries when doing huge cliff hucks, landing monster gaps, and big air in the park. Do you think that this could become as common as helmets in the near future?

  36. dave downing November 17th, 2008 10:49 am

    @jerimy: regarding mouth pieces, I’m always surprised by the quick reference to the top 1% of the sport (huge cliffs, gaps, etc)…My first knee-to-face contact was in high school skiing trees and discovering a small “ditch”. Got the cheek and eye instead of teeth luckily. I don’t wear a mouth piece, but have been thinking about it…

  37. Pierce November 17th, 2008 10:50 am

    Anyone have any experience or comments regarding other types of helmets vs. ski-specific helmets? Specifically, do you think downhill mtn biking or skate helmets offer better protection than a ski helmet? It seems the standards have actually gone backwards for skiing. I liked the snell-rated helmets, but no one makes them anymore because the snell test was much more involved and manufacturers would rather keep that money. It seems that some of the downhill biking or skate helmets are beefier and would be better than some of the ski helmets I’ve seen out there. I’ve bough pro-tec helmets in the past that were marketed for both skiing/biking or skiing/skating. Any experts on this out there?

  38. jerimy November 17th, 2008 12:40 pm

    I was just trying to gauge what others thought of wearing mouthpieces while skiing and your personal experience was the sort of response I was looking for. Under what circumstances have individuals had an incident where a mouth piece would have been useful in preventing or limiting an injury. I should have been more clear in my original post. In this type of forum personal context can be lost especially when I try to limit the length of my posts.

    I know you don’t have to be an elite skier to need protection and I was not rash to reference such. I only mentioned the top 1% because this is where you typically see riders wearing mouth pieces (downhill racing, x games, etc). The average skier probably hasn’t even considered a mouth piece as skiing equipment because it is not the norm. Same could be said for helmets just a few years ago which is why I brought it up in the first place.

  39. Lou November 17th, 2008 1:03 pm

    Jerimy and associated commments bring up an interesting issue, in that safety gear could be somewhat a matter of style and trend as much as actually being effective in preventing injury. Knees are the best example in my opinion. We seem to have come to accept that ski bindings frequently do not prevent serious and sometimes even career ending knee injury, yet we spend hours debating and discussing how to strap an inch of Styrofoam around our skull that is proven to have little protection against the more powerful variety of impact.

    And in a greater sense, what probability of injury type do we accept when it comes to teeth or whatever, do we choose safety gear based on style and peer pressure or because we really think it’s likely to save our behinds?

    Another item that’s worthy of discussion is avy gear. Avalung? Airbag?

    It’s actually already gotten to the point where you’d have trouble carrying all the stuff you can buy for your personal safety in the backcountry:

    A few things I can think of: Avalung, avy-airbag, Spot messenger, PLB, GPS, satphone, kneepads, helmet, mouthguard, kneebraces, bivvy sack, 2-way radio…

  40. dave downing November 17th, 2008 1:17 pm

    You definitely have to draw the line somewhere on everything you wear to protect yourself. A back guard? Shoulder pads? Adamantium claws? Wrist Guards?

  41. Colin November 17th, 2008 4:26 pm

    If I had adamantium claws, it’s likely that my body was able to heal itself from having the adamantium fused to my skeleton. Thus I really wouldn’t be worried about ski injuries, and I’d be more worried about saving the world from bad guys. :-)

    Unfortunately, I don’t have adamantium claws.

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    I haven’t really considered a mouthguard, but I have considered a full-face. A knee to the mouth has the potential to wreck a couple grand in orthodontic work. I’m saying this as somebody who may drop 15-ish foot cliffs and who teles (if that matters). FF helmets are warm too, and I’m pretty sure they offer more overall head protection than your standard Giro Fuse/G10/Smith Variant, etc. I’m thinking along the lines of the Giro Remedy, SixSixOne, Sweet, etc. I’m also really just thinking of inbounds too, in that when I’m BC skiing I generally ski more cautiously, and I really don’t want to lug a FF around.

    Just some thoughts.

  42. Lou November 17th, 2008 4:38 pm

    I forgot the wrist guards.

  43. smitty November 18th, 2008 7:32 pm

    This past summer I took a nasty spill over the handle bars of my mountain bike, somehow didn’t get my hands down and face-planted onto a few rocks. This was on the Monarch Crest trail. I had a helmet on, but still had a concussion. Also fractured my eye socket and cheek bone, each in two different places. Two titanium plates now hold my orbital together. My surgeon recommends a full face helmet and I would have to agree, especially if you’re charging hard and taking risks. I was lucky to have good health insurance.

    Purchased the Smith x Troy Lee Design full face helmet today.

    http://www.smithoptics.com/Smith-x-Troy-Lee-Designs_72_657.html

    I’m a little worried about my goggles fogging because of the helmet, but I think all will be fine.

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