Figure Skating Accessory Review: The Ice Halo
G-forces are the forces you feel when you speed up, slow down, or take tight turns. G-forces are what make roller coasters so much fun and what make car accidents so dangerous. At g-forces of 4 or 5, the average person might black out because the heart cant pump blood with high g-forces. Blood pools in the extremities, away from the brain, which doesnt receive enough oxygen and the average person passes out. With training, however, people like fighter pilots can tolerate 8-9 Gs and with proper clothing and equipment, people can withstand even greater g-forces for longer periods of time.
The problem, from the point of view of figure skating, isnt holding up under the pressure. According to an online course from the University of Montana Bozeman, figure skaters can exceed 4 Gs when jumping or spinning.
Nope, the problem with g-forces happens when the figure skater decelerates suddenly instead of in a nice, controlled landing. In other words, the crash landing is the problem. Humans have a hard time surviving g-forces above 50 Gs, at least not without some injury. A 100-G car crash can be fatal.
High-level skaters can reach speeds of 20 mph during their programs. Falls at those speeds are dangerous. However, we all know that the figure skaters first lesson on the ice is how to fall and how to get back up again. Figure skaters are pretty good at falling, especially those who are whizzing past the hockey glass at 20 mph.
However, Ive also witnessed some stunning falls at the rink, even from seasoned skaters. Figure skaters rarely fall and bonk their heads because they have learned to shift their weight to their back sides. A coach told me that a figure skater who falls and hits her head has probably been distracted, hit a rut in the ice, or isnt confident about falling. Instead of falling on the ice and letting her bodys natural padding absorb the impact of the fall, a figure skater who is afraid to fall will try to compensate for her poor balance and might over balance and either fall on her face or hit her head on the ice.
Ive seen skaters hit their heads. Ive seen what concussions look like first hand. Its not what Id want for my own daughter.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about figure skating protective equipment (Protective Gear for Figure Skaters) and I mentioned the Ice Halo product. Barbara Armstrong, the Ice Halos inventor and owner of the Ice Halo company sent me a free sample of the Ice Halo (Ice Girl chose charcoal gray fleece for her halo) as well as swatches of all the different kinds of fabric a skater can choose as the Ice Halos covering.
The Ice Halo looks like a headband, but bulkier. It has light-weight foam on the interior and different kinds of fabric from pink fake fur to pink fleece on the outside (spot clean only). Armstrong sent me over 30 fabric swatches that skaters can choose from. I was surprised that Ice Girl chose the Charcoal Gray, but I think she wanted to minimize the look of the Ice Halo and not call attention to it with something like Faux Fur Blue Eyelash (baby blue, long, and silky) or Spandex Red Shimmer. However, I really thought she was going to choose Faux Fur White Rabbit because its so pretty and would look great on the ice. Who can predict a teen?
The figure skater wears the Ice Halo in much the same way as shed wear a headband. Ice Girl couldnt manage the Ice Halo and her pony tail, but Ice Friend wore the Halo just fine with hers. The Ice Halo is bigger in the back to protect the head and one side has a Velcro closure so the figure skater can adjust the Ice Halos size to fit her head.
According to the printed material that Armstrong sent along with the Ice Halo, swatches, and informational DVD, the Ice Halo has been, […]tested and proven to reduce impact force by over 250G. Remember that car crashes of 100 G can be fatal or cause serious injuries. Armstrong also includes information from a Canadian study that found a link between sports-related head injuries and Alzheimers disease. The study also shows a link between just one concussion and deficiencies in memory, motor skills, and reaction times as athletes age. Armstrong also cites a U.S. study that found a link between head trauma and neurological disorders.
The microfleece Ice Halo will set buyers back $50.95 USD, including shipping, or $49.70 CAD, including shipping. The furry ones cost a bit more: $56.08 USD, or $54.70 CAD.
I think the design of the Ice Halo product is really good. Its lightweight and the halo isnt enormous or distracting to the skater. Once a skater adjusts the Velcro on the side with the Ice Halo logo, thats all the adjustment thats needed. The skater just slips it on and off her head. As I mentioned, Ice Girl struggled with fitting the Ice Halo on her head with a pony tail, but once she let her hair down, the Ice Halo fit well. Ice Friend had no difficulties with the Ice Halo and her pony tail. Neither Ice Girl nor Ice Friend had any trouble seeing with the Ice Halo and they both jumped just fine.
When people see the Ice Halo on my kitchen table or on the bench at the rink, they have a hard time resisting picking it up. People are naturally curious about the product and they are as surprised as I was that its so lightweight. I had no trouble asking Ice Friend to give it a try at early morning ice.
Ah, but thats the thing, isnt it? It was just Ice Girl and Ice Friend at 6 a.m. ice the morning I brought the Ice Halo and my camera (BTW, cool time-lapse photos, hey?). Ice Girl is 15 and shes deeply aware of how small movements and deviations from the standard high school teen wardrobe can affect her social status for the day. I couldnt get her to wear the Ice Halo at any session but her Wednesday 6 a.m. session where she and Ice Friend share the ice with no one else. I asked the girls about the product. They both liked it; although Ice Girl tugged and pulled at it way more than Ice Friend did. However, when I asked the girls if they would wear it at a practice with other skaters and they both just smiled awkwardly and said no.
Thats the problem, isnt it? This is a great product, but I know Ice Girl would never wear it. Shes not the trail-blazing type. Shes not the kind of kid who looks at the scientific evidence and says, Yep, Ill wear that. Ice Friend said that she probably wouldnt wear it, either.
So, would I spend $50 on this product? Probably. Would I get $50 worth of use out of it? Probably not. But I know myself: Id buy it so that I could say I did everything I could to keep my kid safe on the ice. Well, everything but force her to wear the Ice Halo. Peer pressure is much more powerful that any threats, ranting, and reasoned arguments that I can throw at my teen.
What do you think? Is the Ice Halo something that you think all skaters should wear? Would your skater wear it? Ice Dad thinks that our figure skating club should mandate the Ice Halos use so we can keep insurance costs low and prevent injury. He says that if everyone has to wear one, than no one will feel dorky. Me, Im not convinced that wed have buy-in from the coaches. What do you think?
Special thanks to Ice Girl and Ice Friend for playing around with the Ice Halo and giving me your honest opinions. Thank you, too, to Barbara Armstrong, the Ice Halos inventor, for sending me the product to review. I plan to give the Ice Halo to a local skater who has suffered head trauma in the past.
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