Helmets remain optional at Atlantic ski hills
The use of helmets will remain voluntary at Atlantic skill hills this year because there are no models approved by the Canadian Standards Association, say hill operators.
The use of ski helmets became a prominent issue last year when actress Natasha Richardson died after a fall in Quebec. She was not wearing a helmet.
At that time the P.E.I. government, which runs a hill at the provincial park in Brookvale, said it would consider making helmets mandatory. But a meeting of the Atlantic Canada Ski Council decided to continue to make helmet-wearing voluntary.
"At this point no hills are moving forward with the mandatory helmet policy," provincial parks manager Shane Arbing told CBC News last week.
"This is the decision that's been made, and we'll be consistent with other ski hills."
Arbing says the main reason for not making helmets mandatory is that there are no CSA-approved helmets on the market yet.
Last March, CSA approved standards for ski and snowboarding helmets for the first time, but there are not yet any manufacturers making helmets to that standard. That's because there's no law to say that ski helmets have to follow any guidelines.
There are helmets available for rent at Brookvale, and they meet European standards, but CSA says that's not good enough.
"The technical committee, they looked at these other standards when they developed the Canadian standard, and in this case decided they required an entirely new standard that offered better protection," said Anthony Toderian, a senior media relations officer with CSA.
Arbing said Brookvale will step up its promotion of helmet use this season, but they won't be mandatory until CSA-approved helmets are on the market.
Todderin is optimistic those helmets will be available soon. He said there's been huge demand from ski associations across the country.