Three deaths have occurred this year at Lake Tahoe resorts: one during a Freeskiing competition, a snowboarder who either suffocated in a snow well or hit a tree, and a woman who crashed into a lift tower. The latter two were not wearing helmets. Helmets are not required on any Lake Tahoe ski resorts, but all Tahoe resorts strongly recommend the protective head gear.
Studies have shown that traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths among skiers and snowboarders, with children particularly at risk. A 2008 study conducted by University of Washington professor Peter Cummings concluded that the use of helmets could reduce the risk of serious injury in up to 60 percent. This study was not taken seriously. At the end of 2010, a ski safety bill was vetoed by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. This bill required that all children under age 18 wear helmets while skiing and snowboarding.
But area skiers and boarders are starting to take the issue seriously. Over the past few years, ski helmets have been gaining in popularity not only because of the safety issue, but because they are better designed and less “dorky” than in the past. Resorts like Northstar-at-Tahoe, Granlibakken, and Squaw Valley offer helmets for rent and Porters Sports offers helmets for sale for around $70.
Photo note: Helmet wearer who is also protected from errant tree branches.
Photo Courtesy of [hillary h/Flickr]