SAM reports more than 500 employees at Aspen Skiing Co. will be wearing helmets while working on the slopes next season. The Aspen areas join Vail Resorts and Intrawest areas in requiring helmets for large portions of their labor forces.
At the same time, the Aspen resorts expanded their helmet requirement for ski-school students to include all those age 17 and younger, up from age 13 and younger, and for every student in a terrain park or halfpipe. Any instructors teaching classes where helmets are required for students must also wear a helmet.
Aspen also surveyed its employees before enacting the policy, and received strong support for it. Many employees have been wearing helmets voluntarily.
The Aspen resorts expanded their helmet requirements for both staff and guests "to ease our way into this and to lead by example", PR director Jeff Hanle told the Aspen Times. "We want to practice what we preach".
Still, many Aspen hourly employees are not included in the new policy. Among them: instructors (except as noted above), patrollers, and lift attendants. But Hanle noted that could well change in the near future, as there’s a steady movement in that direction in the industry as a whole.
In fact, helmet use continues to expand with customers as well. Last season, 57 percent of skiers and riders were wearing helmets while hitting the slopes of U.S. ski areas, according to the latest figures from the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). That compared to 48 percent in 2008-09 and 43 percent in 2007-08.