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Helmets worn for skiing but not for sledging

Helmets on the ski slope - a success story, according to experts Keystone

Helmets are now largely accepted on the ski pistes in Switzerland, statistics have shown. But people are not wearing them while sledging, despite the fast speeds and dangers that the activity entails.

Last winter nine out of ten skiers and snowboarders wore head protection, the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention said on Tuesday. The actual percentage was 89%, “the highest it has ever been”, the council said in a statement. The previous year it had been 87%.

This compares with the 2002/2003 season where just 16% wore helmets, “an impressive rise”, it added.

But the organisation noted that just 52% were wearing head gear while sledging, up from 50% last year, the first time helmet and sledging statistics were published. Children aged seven to 12 were most likely to wear a helmet, adults over 46 the least likely.

Most people were wearing ski goggles or sunglasses while out tobogganing but “braking aids on shoes were unfortunately hardly worn, despite the fact that spikes, for example, would noticeably improve braking behaviour”.

It said 6,500 people were injured while out sledging in 2011, mostly through colliding with other people or objects. While deaths are rare, the past decade has seen 12 people die from sledging accidents.

Overall, statistics show that eight out of ten snow sports accidents happened on the piste. Most of the around 65,000 accidents a year happened when skiers and snowboarders fell. Collisions between piste users are more rare than one thinks, the statement noted.

“Particularly striking is the high percentage of injuries occurring after jumps in snow parks [for freestyle snow sports]. Especially severe here were head injuries,” it warned.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR