From a “Helmet Hair” contest in Vermont, to discounts on helmet purchases for anyone who trades in a bruised or battered one in Oregon, ski and snowboard resorts across the country will mark the 14th annual National Safety Awareness Week, Jan. 19-27.
The observance started in the 1999-2000 season with the Heads Up safety initiative and the Responsibility Code developed by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). Areas create their own twists on the themes, and NSAA gives out annual safety awards. Various threads intertwine: Know the Code, Lids on Kids, and Kids on Lifts.
Research commissioned by NSAA revealed that last season 67 percent of skiers and snowboarders wore helmets on the slopes, up 10 percent from the 2010/11 season. That compares to 25 percent wearing protective gear when interviewed during the 2002/03 season.
NSAA data show that almost 80 percent of youngsters 17 and under wear helmets, while 91 percent of children 9 and younger are protected by ski or snowboard helmets. Lowest usage appears among those 18 to 24, at 53 percent, while 78 percent of adults older than 65 protect their heads.
Helmet Head and PHAT
Safety Week starts with Okemo, Vermont’s annual Helmet Head Contest, a celebration of that mess of hair that occurs only when skiers and riders remove that most important piece of safety equipment – their helmet, said Bonnie MacPherson. “Find Okemo’s Helmet Head photographer on the mountain and the best Helmet Head wins two lift tickets.”
Vermont’s PHAT (Protect Your Head at All Times/Protect Your Head on All Terrain) team return to Okemo from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 20. The Vermont Snow Sports Research Team, a partnership of Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and the University of Vermont College of Medicine, will be on location to help educate skiers and riders about helmet use.
Other Vermont ski and snowboard areas will promote the PHAT program through mid-February, including Bromley (Jan. 19); Bolton Valley (Jan. 26); Stowe(Jan. 27); Mad River Glen (Jan. 29); Smugglers Notch (Feb. 2); Jay Peak (Feb. 3); and Okemo’s PHAT Tuesday (Feb. 12).
Children in the Smugglers' Notch Discovery Dynamos (ages 3-5) and Adventure Rangers (ages 6-10) ski and ride instructional programs will take part in scavenger hunts following clues related to the skiers’ and riders’ Responsibility Code.
Loon Mountain, N.H. is gearing up some of the activities which won it top honors in NSAA's Safety Contest last year. Among these are “Cash Cabin,” which sends Loon employees throughout the week to ride the gondola and randomly select guests for an impromptu safety quiz in the style of “Cash Cab,” the Discovery Channel quiz show. Guests will answer questions about the Skier Responsibility Code, as well as the Smart Style terrain park code. Guests will have an opportunity to win prizes.
The Michigan Snowsports Industry Association has purchased coupons for hot chocolate at McDonalds. Ski patrollers at 29 resorts will distribute these "Caught Being Safe" coupons to young skiers and riders wearing helmets and skiing or riding safely during the week. Wild Mountain, in Taylor Falls, Minn., is offering all safety gear in the resort shop at a 25 percent discount during Safety Week, including helmets, goggles, wrist guards, and goggles.
Safety Fair, Safety Dog
Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon will hold a Safety Fair Saturday, Jan. 26, including Know the Code games and raffles, beginner chair demonstrations, Avy Dog meet and greet, damaged helmet education and recycling, avalanche rescue training and awareness, music and prizes. Representatives from Mt. Hood Meadows Pro Patrol will be on hand to discuss safety issues, and introduce guests to the safety search and rescue dogs.
Meadows’ Dave Tragethon said, “A special emphasis this year is educating young guests about how to board, ride and unload chairlifts safely (the L.I.F.T.S.T.A.R.S Program). Lessons and rental packages for youngsters 14 and under come with helmets, and year round all publicity material whether videos, Facebook photos, ads and trail maps show only skiers and riders in helmets all season.”
Mountain High in Southern California is selling helmets at a 15 percent discount. Anyone who shows up wearing a helmet gets a $10 Express Card, good for deals all season long.
Beaver Creek, Colo. has a variety of activities scheduled for Safety Week. The Ski Patrol will conduct helmet fittings Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Each day between Jan. 19 and 27, there’s a helmet raffle.
Austyn Williams of Copper Mountain, Colo. said his resort “takes pride in making safety cool for kids.” Among many other things, the opening weekend of Safety Week will be filled with patrol and avalanche dog demonstrations as well as a Flight for Life flyover and Patrol Open House's throughout the weekend.
Aspen/Snowmass Colo. plans events at all four of its mountains, including helmet demos, free binding checks, patrol open houses, kids poster contest, avi dog demonstrations, and more. Loveland hosts the National Forest Service Junior Snow Ranger program Jan. 19 focusing on ecology, safety and education. Guests at Steamboat, Colo. can have their pictures taken with Bear the Safety Dog in Gondola Square.
Top Photo: Okemo Resort; Bottom Photo: Lids On Kids