The long-running helmet debate took another surprising twist today, as American ski resort Pyrite Creek announced that it will be banning the use of helmets in their park.
While often overshadowed by Utah's other resorts such as Snowbird, Park City and Brighton, Pyrite Creek has long been popular with freestyle snowboarders and boasts a mid-sized terrain park, with three large booters and an 18-foot halfpipe. Up until now it was open to riders regardless of whether or not they wore a lid, but that's all about to change.
"Numbers don't lie", said Joe Kerr, the resort's Head Of Operations. "You only need to look at the statistics that have been published in the last five years to see that the increased use of helmets has led to a similar rise in head injuries. It's happening here, and it's happening everywhere. There's only one solution, really; we stop riders from wearing helmets, and that number comes back down".
The local park crew (known as the 'Pyrite Creek Brigade') have announced plans to defy the law and wear theirs anyway.
Unsurprisingly, the decision has been met with some dismay. Local riders have been joined by national advocacy groups in condemning the actions of Pyrite Creek, and held a town hall meeting where those in attendance called the management "misguided" and "short-sighted". It has also been suggested that the decision has more to do with litigation fears than rider safety. Just as many American resorts still don't use safety bars on chairlifts - the logic being that only the rider can be blamed if they fall off - this decision will make slope users more responsible for their own well-being.
The local park crew (known as the 'Pyrite Creek Brigade'), some of which have sponsorship deals with helmet companies, have announced plans to defy the law and wear theirs anyway. In response, mandatory bag searches will be taking place at the park's main chairlift, Eager Beaver. Discussion on the Brigade's Facebook page is exploring possible alternatives, such as rugby scrum caps. At the very least it'll adversely affect the filming of their webisode series, Pyrite Creek Gone Mad.
Located in a valley once popular with prospectors during the Gold Rush, the resort has been a family-run business since it was founded by Joseph Turr in 1957. His daughter Jess, the current owner, was unavailable for comment. An appeal has been lodged, with a decision due by the end of this month - we'll have more on the story as it develops.