Soft Eared Helmet Issue and Helmet “Swap” on Saturday

This Saturday at 1pm, we’d like to invite you to an informal “Helmet Swap” in the South/East end of the Skiway Lodge around 1pm. If you have old helmets you want to sell or pass on, bring them in. If you have a kid (any age) who might need a helmet, bring ’em over. Coaches will be around to help verify fit!

Why are we doing this? The most important things from the coach perspective is that kids have a helmet that is comfortable, fits well, and they wear it correctly. In many cases issues with the first or second point leads to issues with the third. A good fitting helmet will protect the skier’s forehead, and not stay securely in place through a variety of head movements. Hint: If you can see a lot of your child’s forehead, or they have a giant “Joey Gap” (what the kids call space between the goggles and the top of the helmet opening), chances are the helmet is not a great fit.

That brings to challenge #2: “Soft Ears.” Some our kids currently wear hard topped helmets with soft ear covering. USSA rules to say that soft eared helmets are allowed in Slalom races. but not “Speed Events” (which most interpret as being anything Giant Slalom to Downhill).  USSA also says helmets must have markings that indicate they are intended for downhill skiing and adhere to international standards. That said, this is rarely verified at this level, but it can be an issue. As a parent I can tell you that one of my kids used a soft-eared helmet (made by Giro, and similar to the one I wear) until he started doing more races and then we moved him full-time to hard-eared helmet, and even though he could have worn that for races like Cote Dual Slalom we skied this past weekend. Additionally while a Slalom helmet can have a chin guard and bumper to protect athletes from gates in the face, helmets for Speed Events cannot. The general concept as best I understand it is there is a concern that anything protruding from the helmet could cause the helmet to snag and twist one’s head in a high speed fall. In 3 weeks we are planning to attend a Kombi race at Mount Sunapee (mix of Slalom and GS), I assume both types of helmets will be allowed, but have not been able to get clarification. In March, we will have some Giant Slalom race opportunities, and hard-eared helmets will be required then.

Here are the complete USSA rules on Downhill ski racing helmets:

“Helmets designed and manufactured for the particular discipline of ski racing being contested are required for all competitors and forerunners in all USSA events and official training. Helmets must bear a CE mark and conform to recognized and appropriate standards such as CEH.Din 1077, ASTM F2040, SNELL S98 or RS 98. Helmets must cover the head and ears. Helmets with spoilers or edges that stick out are not permitted. Protective features integral to the discipline being contested, such as chin guards on slalom helmets, are permitted. Soft ear protection is only permitted for helmets used in slalom.

USSA does not specify nor recommend nor make any warranties as to the fitness for use of any particular ski helmet design or brand name. USSA undertakes no responsibility, liability or duties to any competitor in connection with the requirement that helmets be utilized. It is the sole responsibility of the competitor to select an appropriate helmet for accident protection in ski racing.”

About Ford Sayre

Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council
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