CSA Z263.1-2014, Recreational Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding Helmets

Orientation planes described in CSA Z263.1-2014 The newest edition of CSA Z263.1-2014 Recreational Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding Helmets standard differs from the prior edition, specifying in detail the apparatus and test method.

Developed in response to a significant increase in the use of helmets for alpine skiing and snowboarding activities in Canada, it defines the basic performance requirements for shock absorption, helmet stability and retention system strength and identifies marking and labeling requirements.

Canadian Standards Association (operating as “CSA Group”) develops standards through a consensus standards development process approved by the Standards Council of Canada. This process brings together volunteers representing varied viewpoints and interests to achieve consensus and develop a standard.

Kelly McMillan in The New York Times reported in Dec 2013, “There’s a push toward faster, higher, pushing the limits being the norm, not the exception,” said Nina Winans, a sports medicine physician at Tahoe Forest MultiSpecialty Clinics in Truckee, Calif. “So, all of those factors — terrain parks, jumping cliffs and opening terrain that maybe wasn’t open in the past — play into some of these statistics with injuries.”

The population most susceptible to that culture is the one that is dying, statistics show. Seventy percent of snow-sports fatalities involve men in their late teens to late 30s, according to the ski area association. That is the same population that most often engages in high-risk behaviors like driving fast. Head injuries remain the leading cause of deaths in skiing and snowboarding, Shealy said, with about 30 in the United States each year.

CSA Z263.1-2014 cautions, “Although a helmet that meets the requirements of this Standard will help reduce the risk of some types of injuries to the head, protection is limited. Users are responsible for participating in a sport within their abilities and taking into account snow and other environmental conditions, which can vary widely. Compliance with sport safety rules and applicable responsibility codes can help reduce the risk of personal injury.”
The standard covers the topics of the extent of protection, peripheral vision, stability testing, dynamic retention, shock absorption, toughness and more.

Two other standards are referenced:

DIN EN 960:2006 Headforms for Use in the Testing of Protective Helmets
SAE J211-1 (2007) Instrumentation for Impact Test — Part 1 — Electronic Instrumentation

Related Standards
CAN/CSA-Z94.1-15 Industrial protective headwear — Performance, selection, care, and use
ASTM F2040-18 Standard Specification for Helmets Used for Recreational Snow Sports

Listen to a provocative and somewhat related story of a skier: Flight  by Bobby Stoddard on @TheMoth: http://themoth.org/posts/stories/flight

1. CSA Group, CSA Z263.1-2014: Recreational Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding Helmets (Toronto: CSA Group, 2014), 19.

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