Elderly skier hits snow groomer

A skier is recovering after crashing against a snow groomer.The restaurant manager, 64, was skiing down a hill in the winter sport resort of Heiligenblut, Carinthia, when he failed to notice the vehicle parked on the side of the slope on Thursday evening.Local officials said staff briefly parked the groomer while they checked a fake snow machine. The skier is recovering at a nearby clinic, they added. It has not been disclosed what kind of injuries the man sustained.Police in Lech, Vorarlberg, announced today (Mon) that a 28-year-old German died after hitting his head on a boulder as he skied down offside groomed slopes, despite wearing a helmet.Statistics have shown that up to 60,000 skiers and snowboarders injure themselves on Austrian slopes every winter.Figures by insurance agency Allianz showed that skiing is the most dangerous winter activity in total figures as more than 46,000 skiers needed treatment at clinics in 2008. Fewer than 12,000 snowboarders were hospitalised at the same time.Meanwhile, the debate over whether skiers should be forced to wear helmets continues.The Tyrolean Mountain Rescue Board warned that a federal law would be counterproductive. It claimed that risk awareness must be increased among skiers instead of just implementing regulations.Tyrolean Social Democratic (SPÖ) Deputy Governor Hannes Gschwentner said he decided to support such campaigns after realising he will be unable to convince his party’s coalition partner, the People’s Party (ÖVP), that helmet rules are a good idea.Research by the Austrian Skiing Association (ÖSV) showed that in April 2009 almost six in 10 skiers of all ages were wearing helmets when on the slopes. More detailed analysis shows that only one out of every two skiers aged older than 60 did so, while the share was found to be significantly higher among kids under 15 at 86 per cent.Only two Austrian provinces – Lower Austria and Upper Austria – have introduced bylaws which enforce skiers and snowboarders aged 15 and younger to wear helmets.