Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It's Hats off to Safety

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It's Hats off to Safety

Article excerpt

While some skiers may look at a helmet as a way to protect their head from getting dinged by the safety bar, there are more and more reasons to consider donning one instead of a hat.

For one, children under 17 are now required by law to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding in New Jersey. This is the second season for the new law, which fines parents or guardians $25 for children who fail to wear one for the first violation, and $100 for subsequent offenses.

In the past decade, helmets have become popular. Last season, 67 percent of skiers and riders wore helmets -- up 10 percent from the 2010-11 season, according to the National Ski Areas Association 2012 National Demographic Study. In addition, 80 percent of children 17 and under now wear helmets, according to that study.

As a result of the increased helmet usage, manufacturers have stepped up the focus on safety features in addition to comfort details.

"Helmets have become a fashion statement -- colors are fun and styles are varied," said Rob Lane, general manager of Ski Barn in Paramus. But, he added, "Helmets don't last forever and don't have the same level of protection after a few years of use."

Indeed, manufacturers recommend replacing a helmet after some kind of impact. Not only do the materials in a helmet break down after time, any kind of a hit -- from striking a tree to getting dented while being tossed around in a plane's cargo -- should not be ignored.

Multiple impact technology is making news in the ski industry with Swedish brand POC becoming the first company to introduce MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), into a helmet on the Receptor Backcountry ($250) last season.

The technology uses a thin layer of molded plastic between the padding and the outer shell that is said to absorb the energy created by an oblique blow to the head and reduce the chance of a concussion.

"It's definitely a technology that is growing," said Nick Brosnan, POC's public relations manager, who added that MIPS is hoping to work it into football and ice hockey helmets in the near future. …

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