Skiway to mandate use of helmets for P.E. class

by Alix Cody | 11/18/04 6:00am

Students taking ski and snowboarding physical education classes this winter will need one extra piece of equipment besides what goes on their feet. Any student enrolled in one of those classes will now be required to wear a ski helmet, the College recently announced.

Safety was the major motivation for the rule, implemented after a regular review of safety measures and procedures in P.E. courses last winter and spring, said College spokesman Roland Adams.

Based on recent studies showing that ski helmets may provide some protection in accidents, especially slower speed collisions, surface falls and glancing impacts, the College decided to require helmets, Adams said.

Concerns raised by the parents of Christina Porter '06 also weighed heavily in the decision. Porter went into a coma after an accident during a PE ski class at the Dartmouth Skiway last February. Porter's parents kept in close touch with the College, and as early as last winter had called for a helmet requirement. However, Adams said the College had been examining evidence about ski helmets even before Porter's accident.

The rule doesn't mean that a similar requirement will soon be in place for the entire Skiway, Adams said.

"At this point there is not a move toward a helmet requirement at the Skiway," Adams said. "The focus is on where we require students to participate."

Because the College requires students to take P.E., it needs to mandate compliance with safety standards.

Students who voluntarily participate in physical activities such as skiing are not required to comply with safety rules because they are choosing to participate in the activity, rather than fulfilling a stipulation for graduation.

In order to ensure students have access to helmets, the Athletic Department and Golf and Ski Warehouse in West Lebanon worked together to provide students who did not previously own a helmet with a discounted purchase price at a P.E. ski fit and rental night sale on Nov. 15. Giro, Boeri and Marker helmets -- three major brands -- were offered at the sale for between $60 and $78, a 40 percent price reduction from retail price. Technicians were also on hand to help ensure a proper helmet fit.

Students will have another chance to purchase helmets at a similar sale on Jan. 10, 2005. After that, the Golf and Ski Warehouse will continue to offer a 20-percent discount on helmets to the Dartmouth community through the end of January.

Renting a helmet on a daily basis is also an option for students. The Skiway will have helmets available for daily rental by students.