Monday, 9 February 2015
Standards keep you safe on the slopes
With this year’s ski season well under way, you may have decided to stow away your old gear in the attic and get yourself new skis and boots. Yet, whether you are buying or renting brand new or second-hand equipment, getting your ski bindings adjusted is essential before hitting the slopes.
Wearing a protective helmet when practicing snow sports is another wise choice since it reduces the risk and seriousness of certain head injuries. But did you know that standards keep you safe as you slide through the snow?
The importance of ski bindings
While skis, bindings and boots may not be made by the same manufacturer, all three components must be compatible. And this is where standards play a key role.
Ski equipment manufacturers rely on ISO standards (drafted by the International Organization for Standardization) for things like binding screw dimensions, mounting characteristics, or the binding mounting area on skis.
For example, effective release of the ski boot depends on the dimensions and design of the contact areas, which are accurately defined; this explains why your skis may come off when you fall. So next time you get frustrated searching your skis in the powder, clicking into your bindings again and finding your balance, remember they only came off because they were optimally adjusted thanks to standards – ensuring you fit the slopes safely.
Ski helmets are on the rise
Ski helmets are another important safety feature for skiers and skateboarders, although their efficiency in preventing fatal injuries is still hotly debated. Their use was rare until about 2000, but nowadays the great majority of skiers and snowboarders in the US and Europe wear helmets.
Helmets are available in many styles, and typically consist of a hard plastic/resin shell with inner padding. Modern ski helmets may include many additional features such as vents, goggle mounts and camera mounts.
The European standard EN 1077 describes features such as shock absorbing capacity and resistance to penetration, as well as the corresponding test methods. It divides helmets into Class A and Class B. Class A helmets are the most protective, and require that the helmet is made in “full shell” or “full face” style. Class B helmets are a little less protective, but allow the users’ ears to be exposed for better communication.
In an impact with icy snow wearing a helmet might be the difference between a minor head injury and a significant or life-threatening head injury. If you do decide to wear a helmet, make sure it fits properly and meets one of the accepted standards for snow sports.
Enjoy your skiing trip and hit the slopes! The standards that exist today make sure your skiing equipment is reliable and safe. Even so, don’t take any undue risks, so that you can fully enjoy the after ski.