I’ve worn a helmet while skiing for about 20 years now, a move I was initially prompted to make while tending to a good friend of mine who had managed to shatter both of his legs after falling off a cliff at Whistler. He wasn’t wearing a helmet, and it’s not really like the presence of one might have saved his fibula, but the incident still gave me pause.
That being said, I’ve never had any delusions about the limitations the “brain bucket” has when it came to my safety. If I walloped into a tree or fell into a ravine at full speed, odds are the plastic protection on my head wasn’t going to work miracles. But it could still protect from minor mishaps, and, frankly, it is warmer than wearing a hat anyway.
But the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery recently released the results of a study by researchers Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center that claim “helmeted skiers and snowboarders evaluated at a Level I trauma center were more likely to suffer severe injury.”
Sixty-five percent of the 721 injured skiers and riders evaluated by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s trauma service in Lebanon, N.H. from November, 2010 to April, 2018 were wearing helmets the study said. Overall helmet use also nearly doubled from that time period — from 49 to 81 percent — and the study found there was no real difference between wearing a helmet or not when it came to serious injury.
The study claims that, despite helmeted skiers and boarders being less likely to suffer skull fractures, lacerations or cervical spine injuries, they were “significantly more likely to suffer severe injury and/or lumbosacral spine injury than unhelmeted patients. Helmeted patients were half as likely to suffer cervical spine injury and a third as likely to sustain skull fracture and/or scalp laceration. More patients who hit a stationary object were helmeted compared with those who fell from standing height onto snow. After adjustment, hitting a stationary object was the injury mechanism most significantly associated with severe injury.”
Does this mean everybody should shed their helmets and bring back pom-pom tops? Hardly. Even with the use of helmets, it’s fair to note how the advances of parks and tree skiing have exploded during the time of the study. Those not wearing a helmet are more likely taking it easier on the hill and understanding their limits. Likewise, the helmet shouldn’t give those who wear one license to push their boundaries.
That’s more common sense than a finding deemed worthy of a medical journal.
The study concluded: ”Our findings reinforce the importance of safe skiing practices and trauma evaluation after high-impact injury, regardless of helmet use.”
So, there you have it. Helmets aren’t the all-powerful protective tool you thought they were while you were recklessly throwing yourself down the mountain.
Wear one anyway, won’t you?
Fundraising under way for Saddleback
Arctaris Impact Investors, the Boston firm that has entered into a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy Saddleback Mountain for a reported $6.5 million, is giving itself until Dec. 16 to finish raising $2 million in order to close the sale on Dec. 23.
Representatives of Arctaris held a community meeting at the Saddleback base lodge last weekend to provide updates on their purchase of the mountain. Arctaris has commitments for $1.7 million so far, but is hoping to raise the remainder through a fundraising effort.
Arctaris is a capital growth firm that does its business by “blending public capital from federal and state government agencies with private capital from institutional investors, foundations and CRA banks.” On that note, in order to leverage tax credits, the firm needs community philanthropic support.
The Bangor Daily News has a good article explaining in detail why Arctaris needs to raise funds.
“We need that $2 million in order to close, we also need that $2 million to demonstrate to all these investment partners that we are capable of raising that money within the community,” Andy Shepard, who will take a role as Saddleback’s new general manager, told the Portland Press-Herald. “We are also confident it will happen and are not anticipating any problems.”
Former Dartmouth student comes up big in World Cup
U.S. Ski Team member Tommy Ford made headlines last weekend when he became the first American man to win a World Cup skiing event in almost three years. It was the first World Cup win for the 30-year-old skier who spent two semesters at Dartmouth College.
Ford grew up in Bend, Ore. and learned to ski at Mt. Bachelor. According to his LinkedIn page, he majored in studio art at Dartmouth with a focus in sculpture.
Ford joined Ted Ligety and Bode Miller as the only American men to win a World Cup tech race since Phil Mahre’s last World Cup win in 1983.
Big upgrades for Okemo
Okemo Mountain Resort will be the beneficiary of a new series of major capital improvements that Vail Resorts announced this week across its properties. The new projects are part of the company’s 2020 capital plan of investing up to $215 million in order to enhance the guest experience.
This includes “transformational upgrades at Okemo.” The investment will include upgrading the Quantum lift from a four-person to a six-person, high-speed chairlift and relocating the existing lift to replace the Green Ridge lift.
Vail also plans to renovate and expand both dining and ski school facilities, as well as enhance accessibility for all guests at the primary point of arrival.
Upgrades are also in store for new Vail properties such as Attitash, Wildcat, and Mount Snow in order to allow for direct-to-lift access for guests in time for the 2020-21 ski season. This is in addition to the company’s previously-announced plans to invest $15 million over the next two years to improve the guest experience across these resorts.