Helmets aren’t required on local hills, but most skiers wear themHere’s a roundup of helmet policies at Duluth-area ski slopes.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
Here’s a roundup of helmet policies at Duluth-area ski slopes:
Spirit Mountain long has required helmets at any downhill events the resort hosts, said Briana Johnson, marketing director. If an event is sanctioned by another organization, it’s their call, but most organizations also require helmets. Last year, Spirit Mountain began requiring all of its instructors to wear helmets while teaching “to be a good role model to the children,” Johnson said.
Spirit Mountain doesn’t rent helmets, she said, for two reasons. One is that it’s hard to have enough inventory to match all possible sizes, and it’s important that helmets be a good fit. The other is concern about hygiene.
Most skiers and snowboarders at Spirit Mountain wear helmets, Johnson said.
“All of the kids are wearing them, so there isn’t that peer pressure (against wearing helmets),” she said. “Helmets have come a long way in recent years. They’re comfortable, and they’re warm.”
Spirit Mountain has had three traumatic injuries during the past five seasons, said Don Douglas, claims adjuster for the city of Duluth, which owns the recreational area. Two of those resulted in death, the other in paralysis.
Mont du Lac
Mont du Lac has an inventory of more than 300 helmets available for rental, said Michael Cameron, general manager. “We rent them for $5, so we make it real easy for folks.”
The recreation area, on the Wisconsin side of the St. Louis River, provides helmets free in the “Learn a Snow Sport Program” offered to schools. Much of the inventory came through a donation from Essentia Health, Cameron said.
But Mont du Lac probably will get out of helmet rentals eventually, he said. The helmets have to be discarded after five years, even if they’ve never been used. “Just the sterilization program is a lot of work.”
Mont du Lac encourages helmet use, and about 85 percent of its customers are wearing them, Cameron estimated.
Cameron declined to provide injury data, but he said Mont du Lac averages 55 to 60 accidents a year. He said there haven’t been any serious injuries in the four years he has been with the recreation area.
Chester Bowl provides a helmet with every pair of skis it rents, said Thom Storm, executive director of the Chester Bowl Improvement Club. The skis and helmet are rented for the season; Chester Bowl doesn’t do daily rentals.
“We have made it so easy for everyone to wear helmets,” Storm said. “There’s no stigma or anything.”
Chester Bowl requires helmets for the six races it hosts each season, Storm said. Helmets aren’t required for recreational skiing, but the vast majority of its skiers wear them, he said.
The Chester Bowl ski area has few serious injuries, Storm said. The last one he could recall was during the 2011-12 season. One person came away with a slight concussion when two skiers collided.