A simple headdress divides the skiing nation. Skiing with or without helmet – this is a question which continuously busies Europe.
Whilst France and Switzerland still don’t mind people sweeping down the pistes “topless”, in Italy children under the age of 14 years are not allowed to access the pistes without a helmet since 2005. Austria’s nine federal states on the other hand, present themselves very at issue about helmets and provide a varying multitude of regulations. At the Hirschkogel, where the ski areas from lower Austria and Styria come together, you can distinctly pick out where the skiers come from. Whilst lower Austria has the obligatory helmet regulation for children under 15, Styria’s skiers still let wind blow through their hair.
According to experts, ski helmets are highly important when it comes to security and health. From all the thousands of head injuries which occur every year, 80% can be avoided by wearing a helmet. Further skiing and tobogganing accidents tend to increase with higher velocity and higher alcohol consume. Doctors, insurances and the mountaineers are therefore calling for a law to make helmets obligatory on German pistes.
Critics however proclaim this to be regulation frenzy and say that the logical consequence would be to make helmets obligatory for pedestrians when there is ice on the streets or even for car drivers when the speed up to 130 km/h. Additionally they use the example of Switzerland. Although there is no official regulation for helmets on the pistes, many youths and even adults wear helmets by choice to minimise the risk of injury. This is the main point the critics raise and therefore feel that the peoples’ freedom of choice is undermined by strict regulations.
Pro or contra, by choice or by order, it seems to be clear: ski shops are looking into great sales opportunities in the helmet industry. Apparently the deadly collision of a skier with the German politician Dieter Althaus in 2009 has brought many people to their senses. The sales of ski helmets in Austria have doubled since then.