Steamboat Springs Special Olympians, from left, Seth Sobeski and Scott Bjorgum and ski instructor Charley Phelan ski in March at Steamboat Ski Area. This year, Intrawest will recommend all skiers and snowboarders wear helmets at its resorts.

File photo

Steamboat Springs Special Olympians, from left, Seth Sobeski and Scott Bjorgum and ski instructor Charley Phelan ski in March at Steamboat Ski Area. This year, Intrawest will recommend all skiers and snowboarders wear helmets at its resorts.

Intrawest focuses on helmets

Children in lessons, instructors will be required to wear helmets this year

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— Intrawest, the parent company of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., is tightening the rules and increasing awareness about helmet use at its resorts this year.

Intrawest will recommend this ski season that all skiers and snowboarders wear helmets at its resorts, and it will require helmets for children and some teens in ski and snowboard school programs, according to a Thursday news release. All students participating in freestyle terrain parks will be required to wear a helmet.

At Steamboat Ski Area, helmets already were required for terrain park classes. Under the new Intrawest rules, the resort will require students ages 15 and younger to wear helmets, Ski Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said.

"We've always kind of had helmets on the brain, no pun intended, as far as a safety message and a safety initiative," she said.

Instructors teaching classes with helmet requirements also must wear helmets, Kasten said. Intrawest is implementing that policy companywide for the 2010-11 season.

Intrawest's news release stated that the helmet would be included in the ski school packages, but Kasten said the resort hadn't worked out those details. Ski area officials are meeting this afternoon for more discussions, she said.

"Obviously, it's going to have an impact on a lot of facets of our organization, and we're still trying to get those in line," Kasten said.

The company also will increase the focus on helmet use in its graphics and advertisements, according to the release.

"Intrawest is working in conjunction with the ski industry to establish important best practices on behalf of our resort guests and employees," said Bill Jensen, chief executive officer at Intrawest.

Kasten said Ski Corp. would increase helmet publicity in line with Intrawest's policies.

"It's been a part of our safety message to use helmets and know how to use them properly," she said. "I think there will be a marketing component to it where we'll show more people utilizing helmets in our marketing."

The change will be implemented at Steamboat, Copper Mountain and Winter Park in Colorado. It also will be made at Stratton Mountain in Vermont, Mountain Creek in New Jersey, Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Panorama Mountain in British Columbia, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia and Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia.

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