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Two more serious skiing accidents in Upper Austria

There were two serious skiing accidents in Upper Austria on Thursday.

A man, 51, from St. Ulrich bei Steyr in Upper Austria’s Steyr-Land district, and a boy, 10, from Deutsch-Wagram in Lower Austria’s Gänserndorf district collided at the Wurzeralm skiing area.

The man made a left turn while skiing fast and ran into the slowly-moving boy with such force that he flew into the air and turned a full summersault before landing on the piste.

Rescuers took the seriously-injured boy to the valley and then transported him to Rottenmann hospital. The man injured his knee and possibly broke his breastbone. The boy was wearing a helmet, but the man was not.

In another incident, a boy, 15, from Kematen an der Ybbs in Lower Austria’s Amstetten district fell while skiing alone at the Kasberg skiing area. A doctor who happened to be in the area and a rescue team gave the boy first-aid, after which he was helicoptered to Linz General Hospital.

The boy suffered severe head injuries despite wearing a helmet. His fate lends credence to the view of a top sport medic who claims helmets are effective only at very low speeds.

Karl-Heinz Kristen, vice president of the Deutsch-Österreichisch-Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Orthopädisch-Traumatologische Sportmedizin (GOTS or German-Austrian-Swiss Association for Orthopedic-Traumatic Sport Medicine) has said making helmets mandatory doesn’t make sense.

He said: "A helmet is not a panacea," noting a helmet provided adequate protection of the head only when the speed of a skier’s collision with an immovable object was no higher than 20 kilometres an hour - slower than speeds reached by most skiers.

Helmets made sense for members of Alpine groups such as rescuers, ski instructors, emergency doctors, care-givers and professional skiers, Kristen added.

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