CSA announces new ski/snowboard helmet standard 

With legislation, helmet advocate doubts standard will be used

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As well, a recent U.S. study found that extreme sports are creating a brain injury epidemic, and that brain injuries are a leading cause of death and disability for men under the age of 35. In Canada, more than 100,000 people suffer brain injuries each year.

According to Kinar, the standards came about through extensive testing of materials, as well as consultation with leading brain injury experts and ski and snowboard industry groups like the Quebec Ski Areas Association. He believes the new helmets would look similar to existing helmets, but with different materials inside to soften and absorb impacts.

He’s encouraged that helmet use in skiing and snowboarding is higher than ever before, but says that anybody purchasing a helmet should be reassured that it meets the highest safety standards.

“People aren’t reading labels or asking questions about the different safety standards, they’re putting on the helmets and seeing how it looks in a mirror,” he said. “People just assume that helmets are the same, or provide the same level of protection, when that’s not the case.”

Education about standards must be a component of any helmet campaign, but Kinar is adamant that the real issue should be what’s available now that CSA has a standard in place.

As for public awareness, the release of a CSA standard also coincides with the release of a new film called Wipe Out that follows three B.C. athletes who have suffered traumatic brain injuries in sports. Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati narrates the new documentary, which features skateboarder Jon Gocer, dirt bike rider Chris Tutin, and snowboarder Chris Dufficy.

The documentary will premier on May 29 at the Doxa Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver.

“I think this documentary will be a real eye-opener for a lot of kids, especially when you have someone like Jon Gocer saying things like he couldn’t even follow a chocolate chip cookie recipe after his injury. Chris Tutin, who took years to recover from his injury — he has a line, ‘it’s either wear a helmet up here, or wear a diaper down there.’”

Shortly after the festival, the documentary will be put online on the Knowledge Network website, along with other short film segments, a video blog, and tools for teachers and students to use in schools.

“The timing (of the CSA standard and Wipe Out) is just a coincidence, but it does a lot to keep the pressure on the federal government,” Kinar said. “We’re doing what we can, but the ball is really in their court.”

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