Skull Orbic Comp- probably the best ski race helmet in the world

Friday, 22 November 2013  |  Evan

Redefining the ski race helmet

Season 2013/14 sees a tightening of the helmet rules for FIS World Cup and Continental Cup downhill, Super G and Giant Slalom racing.  The new rules have been brought in to increase safety for athletes competing in these races.

The Skull Orbic Comp helmet is POC's response to the changing rules.  However, rather than tweaking their existing helmets, POC went back to basics and looked hard at the stresses and strains that a GS helmet has to cope with.  They teamed up with a biomechanical engineer to use a system of helmet-mounted accelerometers, correlated with point of view video recording, to analyse the forces that helmets experience during a GS run.  

What they found was, quite literally, striking.  They realised that many GS skiers routinely lead with their helmets into the gate, hitting it many times per run.  The forces experienced by the helmet were astonishing, and up to 70g.  To put this into context, a typical hit in rugby is in the order of 20-30g, and research from NFL American Football shows that hits of 70-100g are enough to cause concussion.  Against this background, there is emerging evidence from many sports, most prominently NFL, that repeated hits in this range have long-term damaging effects that range from personality change to dementia. Even worse, the repetitive impacts were causing the helmets to be damaged at the front, flattening the inner shell and reducing protection in the event of a crash.  In short, this was bad news for the athletes involved.

POC realised that they had to take these new data into account in designing their new helmet.   The result is the unique features of the Skull Orbic Comp, which include a multi-impact resistant frontal deflector underlayed with a VPD 2.0 panel (VPD is POC's light and highly effective energy absorbtion protective material).  This combination reduces the energy transmitted to the head from hitting gates by about 50% compared to traditional race helmets.  In addition, by protecting the front part of the inner liner from flattening, the ability of the helmet to protect during a serious crash is maintained.

The helmet represents a significant advance in race helmet safety, and exemplifies POC's approach to developing safety equipment- forget about conventions and received wisdom, analyse the problem systematically and scientifically, and come up with the best and most inovative solutions to address the problem.  Oh, and combine this with beautiful Swedish design- quite simply, this is the most stunning looking ski helmet we've seen.  If there's a better ski race helmet in the world, we're not aware of it.  Of course, it fully meets the new FIS RH2013 regulations.

Check out the Skull Orbic Comp on our website. Each helmet comes with two different thicknesses of liner, for precise fitting, along with a robust carrying case.  Be aware- these helmets are likely to be in short supply this season.