Mandatory ski helmets? Not so fast, N.B. hill says
Published Monday, February 1, 2016 8:58AM EST
The New Brunswick Medical Society is applauding the decision by three of the province’s four ski hills to introduce mandatory helmet policies. But the fourth hill says it’s holding off, leaving it to up to skiers to decide whether to wear the head protection.
Poley Mountain, Sugarloaf Park, and Mont Farlagne now require skiers and snowboarders of all ages to wear helmets on their hills.
That has pleased the province’s medical society, which says too many skiers end up in emergency rooms with head injuries that could have prevented with a helmet.
The N.B Medical Society says traumatic brain injuries can cost the health care system $400,000 per year to treat one patient.
"Accidents on ski hills, they happen. But if you can prevent the impact by wearing a helmet, then that reduces the impact on individuals that doctors see in emergency rooms too frequently,” Anthony Knight, the CEO of the New Brunswick Medical Society, told CTV Atlantic.
Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada that makes ski helmet use compulsory. New Brunswick had been planning similar legislation that would have come into effect in 2015, but those plans were scrapped in late 2014.
The N.B. Medical Society says such legislation is not necessary if ski hill owners bring in policies of their own voluntarily.
But while three hills are enacting their own rules, one New Brunswick ski hill says it’s going to allow adult skiers and boarders to decide for themselves if they want to wear helmets.
Crabbe Mountain general manager Jordan Cheney says most of their patrons are already choosing to use helmets anyway.
"We have 90 per cent of people skiing and riding here at Crabbe already wearing helmets,” Cheney said.
Crabbe Mountain is making helmets mandatory for those under age 18, but leaving it up to adults to decide on their own.
"We don't want to be put in the position to police it, and make people’s decisions for them,” Cheney said. “A huge part of our identity here at Crabbe Mountain is that it's a place of freedom. We love that about Crabbe Mountain.”
The Canadian Ski Council says, while it encourages helmet use and promotes their benefits, it believes head protection should be a personal choice, and that skiers and boarders are “capable of making responsible choices with respect to their safety on the ski slopes.”
It says that more than 99 per cent of skiers and boarders under age 14 already wear helmets, and that helmet usage has increased among adults from 32 per cent in 2002 to 86.2 per cent in 2014-2015.
With a report from CTV Atlantic's Laura Brown