DENVER (CBS4) – At least 14 people have died on Colorado’s ski slopes this season, with six since Feb. 1. According to the National Ski Areas Association, traumatic brain injury is the most common cause of death.
It’s estimated 61 percent of skiers and boarders wear ski helmets, which can reduce the severity of head injuries by 30 to 50 percent, but only at slower speeds.
“We all fall down, we’re all fallible, we’re not the best skiers in the world,” said Lee Poelma, a skier at Breckenridge. “I’d rather keep my marbles intact.”
While not required, most ski areas now have helmets available to rent, but not everyone uses them for protection.
“I want a helmet to put a little mounted camera on it but that’s the only reason I need one,” skier Michael Accristo said.
The NSAA says 60 million people hit the slopes last season and 47 died. Almost half of those skiers or boarders were wearing helmets.
“It’s just unfortunate, you always wonder how it happened, you try to keep yourself out of those scenarios,” skier Jeff Lauretti said. “It’s got to be people just not in control of themselves. Unfortunately maybe they are too confident in the helmet.”
There is a theory that backs up Lauretti’s speculation that helmets give a false sense of security. They work best at speeds of 12 miles an hour or less. Above that speed their ability to protect the head drops.
If you are using a helmet, make sure it’s made for skiing. It should fit snugly, not so tight that you have a headache but not so loose that it moves from side to side.
And, like any helmet, if you wreck and it cracks, get rid of it. Some manufacturers will actually give a discount on a new helmet if a compromised one is returned.
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