Will Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Apply Lessons Learned to Pending Ski and Snowboard Bills?

You may still be working on your summer tan, but the Southern California ski and snowboard season unofficially officially begins Sept. 18 with Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails at Bear Mountain in Big Bear. The free event features pro snowboarders competing on 110 tons of man-made snow for a total $20,000 purse in the Pro Invitational Rail Jam and the Red Bull Best Trick Contest.

When it comes to non-pros hitting the slopes next winter, big changes could coming courtesy of the California Legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Remember a few years ago when Schwarzenegger broke his leg while skiing with his family?

Gov. Schwarzenegger at Mammoth Mountain in April. He left with bones intact.
Gov. Schwarzenegger at Mammoth Mountain in April. He left with bones intact.

1) It serves him right for taking the brood to Sun Valley, Idaho, instead of one of California's many fine resorts. Sooooo Obama of him.

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B)  Perhaps the break and resulting surgery convinced Da Gov that more needs to be done to protect skiers and snowboarders from injury.

He has until Sept. 30 to do something about that, in California anyway, as sitting on his desk are two bills approved the end of last month that address safety at ski resorts.

Assembly Bill 1652 by Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) would require California ski resorts to: make public reports about all fatal injuries occurring at the resort; create
and make public annual safety plans; and  implement better signage warning of
boundaries and other dangers. It won Assembly approval by a 51-22 vote.

Senate Bill 880 by state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) would require all children under age 18 to wear helmets while skiing and snowboarding. It won with a 22-11 Senate vote.

Studies show traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of injury-related death among skiers and snowboarders, with children in particular at a higher risk, according to safety backers.

The Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission has found that more than 7,000 head injuries per year on the slopes in the U.S. could be prevented or reduced in severity by the use of a helmet.

Both bills have the support of the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization, the California Psychological  Association, the California Ski Industry Association, the American  College of Emergency Physicians, the California Brain Injury Association, California's Children's Hospital Association, California Chiropractic Association, California Medical Association, California Nurses Association, California Psychiatric Association, California Travel Industry Association, Children's Advocacy Institute and the National Academy of Neuropsychology, among others.

Many resorts are not opposed to helmet requirements per se, but they have requested that the requirements be phased in over time, so that they can better get the word out, public service announcements can be crafted and manufacturers can fit the sudden demand for headgear.

The drive that resulted in legislation was actually started by the father of a 24-year-old woman who was fatally injured while snowboarding with friends at the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort outside Sacramento nearly five years ago.

The dad, believing there exists a lack of consistent safety standards and practices at resorts, founded the nonprofit, San Francisco-based California Ski and Snowboard Safety Association. which advocates for safety improvements at Golden State ski resorts.

You can bet the pros competing at Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails will be wearing their helmets. Besides the contests, attendees will find booths doling out products and autographs, live DJ's, a barbecue and a "Beach Bar" for ages 21+ featuring drink specials from Effen Vodka.

Effen A.

The event also will feature world premiere screenings of two snowboard films at sundown: Bear Mountain's Paint It Red and The People's Cheers.

Go to the Ski Channel for the full scoop.

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