Skiing and snowboarding are extremely popular sports for Americans. In 2020 there were 287 ski resorts in the United States and over 9 million regular skiers. Skiing is a fun and thrilling sport, but it also carries with it a huge amount of danger and risk to those that partake. According to the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, there are approximately 600,000 reported injuries annually in the U.S. as a result of skiing or snowboarding. Most injuries are male (around 80-90%), and most of these injured males are under forty. From these statistics, it is clear to see that many layers of protection are needed for all skiers.

Adequate Clothing

Warm and protective clothing may be obvious, but it is also very important. It takes many parts to make the ideal skiing outfit:

  • Thermals– Synthetic base layers are a good start, usually a long sleeve top and long bottoms. They are good for both hotter and colder conditions and will keep you dry and warm.
  • Salopettes– Ski pants that are waterproof, flexible, and breathable are crucial to staying both warm and dry.
  • Jacket – Once again, breathability and protection from the elements are important here. With a fleece underneath, a thinner jacket could work in warmer climes.

Helmet

A helmet is the single most important piece of protective equipment for skiing. Head injuries are common and are often traumatic. Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., the associate professor of surgery in charge of a John Hopkins study, found that “up to 20 percent of those are head injuries, which mostly occur when skiers or snowboarders hit inanimate objects such as trees or the ground. Twenty-two percent of those head injuries are severe enough to cause loss of consciousness or concussion or even worse injuries. Often the injured were not wearing helmets.”

Helmets are not a legal requirement in the United States but are highly recommended. A National Ski Areas Association study found that 57% of U.S. skiers and snowboarders overall wore helmets in the year ending 2010. There is an argument to suggest that helmet usage while skiing can lower visibility, encourage risky behavior, and decrease hearing. However, Dr. Haider claims that “our research shows none of those theories hold water.” A number of high-profile celebrity deaths from head injuries while skiing, such as Natasha Richardson and Sonny Bono, have helped increase awareness of the importance of wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding.

Eyewear

Eyewear is an essential piece of ski gear. It is important to protect the eyes and, in the process, increase visibility on the slopes. The levels of UV are extremely high, and even more so considering the amount of glare that is reflected from the snow. It can be almost double the amount that emanates from just the sun itself, at times a 90% increase. Snow blindness, as it is called, can lead to decreased visibility and injury. Even if the weather is cold, the sun can damage your eyes as much as it can damage the skin. Other than glare, eyewear can protect against the elements, wind, debris, and snow itself while making your way downhill.

The choice between sunglasses and goggles can be a difficult one. If there are poor conditions such as cold, fog, or wind, then goggles are probably the better option. If it is sunny or calm on the slopes, then sunglasses work better. They also have the advantage of being lighter and more flexible than goggles. Wholesale sunglasses sellers Olympic Eyewear supply designer-like sunglasses to retailers that are perfect for the sunny slopes and apres-ski.

Felicia Rizky