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Ski racers to wear airbag vests
Saturday October 11, 2014 - Email this article to a friend

With increasing concerns about safety and rising injury levels they are to be introduced in December. It follows a period of trials and testing. Will the rest of us follow suit?

Racers at the Val Gardena downhill and Super-G races in Italy in December will be making ski racing history. 

They will be wearing an Italian safety vest that inflates around the neck and chest in the event of a high-speed crash.

The International Ski Federation, FIS, has reportedly authorised their use.

They have been developed and tested for the past 3 years. 

Some testers wore special back protectors with information recorded on speeds and pressures.

The airbag opens in 50 milliseconds and reduces the force transmitted to the shoulders and back by a reported 85%.

We have reported on the trails and testing in this earlier story on PlanetSKI.

They are made buy the Italian company, Dainese.

The new safety vestThe new safety vest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is building on technology developed for motorcycle racers and it is hoped will provide extra safety.

If the airbags go down well it is expected they will be used by other racers, not just those on the World Cup circuit, and they could be taken up by some advanced recreational skiers.

They are deigned to be effective at high-speeds but could offer some additional protection, especially to freeriders off piste.

See below for a test being conducted by Dainese with the Italian ski racer, Werner Heel.

Racing speeds for skiers have got faster and faster with racers reaching 90mph. 

The top speed recorded is more than 96mph at the Lauberhorn race in Wengen.

Falls can be career ending.

Airbags will aid protection in such crashes.

The video below shows Lindsey Vonn crashing at the World Championships in 2013 at Schladming, Austria.

While here is compilation video of crashes from 2012.

Airbag vests would certainly have offered extra protection for the racers.

It is not clear how many racers will wear the vests in December but many have welcomed the new safety initiatives and focus on protection.

16 world cup skiers are involved in the testing including the Norwegian racer, Aksul Lund Svindal.

"Protection is extremely important for us athletes and the development of an air bag for ski racing can increase the level of our safety. I'm happy to give my contribution for the data collection and to transfer my feedback. I hope that very soon all my colleagues will be able to use this outstanding device," said Svindal in 2013.

Svindal had an horrific crash in 2007 while on a training run at Beaver Creek in Colorado, USA.

See the promotional video below of how the D-air safety vest works.

For the spirit of the mountains

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