It would be helpful if you could point out some actual statistics and/or studies that showed these effects. Arguments of the "everyone knows/all the studies show that..." type are not very convincing. There has been a LOT of research on bicycle helmet use, so hand-waving should not be necessary.
I dug up some research papers on helmets and skiing in this thread: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=67090 (see post #26 in particular). Helmets definitely help with head injuries in any sort of low- or medium-speed skiing accident. There seemed to be little or no evidence that neck injuries were more common or more severe with helmet use. In one of the studies I found, people who survived bad ski accidents were much less likely to have brain damage if they were wearing a helmet. (They weren't necessarily more likely to survive in the first place, but if they did their head injuries were less severe.) The evidence I found was enough to convince me that wearing one was a good idea for me....
Search my old posts, I took the time in the past to link to these, ain't wasting it again.
For ski helmets several studies have in fact noted a possible increased risk of neck [edited to delete head and say neck] injuries, including a Canadian study that reached pro-helmet conclusions but highlighted a risk of neck injuries for young kids from wearing helmets due to their weaker neck muscles (it just said it was an issue to look at; neck injuries were not a focus). Google Canadian ski helmet study neck injury study children and you'll probably find it.
I took the time in the past, you take the time now if you're genuinely interested.
As for risk compensation, not only do the data support it, so does economics and for that matter the posts on here. In many threads discussing helmets you hear people admitting that they ski faster with their helmet on, feel that they can be more aggressive skiing trees, etc. I live near a world-class DH mtb-ing area where basically no one will ride the DH trails without full DH armor -- some of those trails are gnarly, the gear is most definitely not making them safer. If some of the safety heads actually had more of a background in these activities, a lot of this may not be such a surprise to them.
Again, I'm not telling anyone NOT to wear a helmet, groin cup, or mouthguard. Or spine protector or impact shorts or shinguards or kneepads. (Though I am always amused that "mandatory gear" advocates never mention mouthguards -- while the actual medical evidence of their ability to prevent concussions is mixed, the view of many in several high-impact sports is that they help, a lot -- but they're not visible and so not a fashion accessory. Helmets = visible = cool.) I'm saying don't mandate it for others via government action, either for patrons or employees. Race programs (with all the gnarly kids that some posters think are skiing 65), patrols, etc. can all do what they want. Race programs require helmets, I've never posted a complaint about it.
Or, be consistent. Eliminate grooming and put in a few more "baffled" fencing slow zones. If people cared about reducing head injuries as an outcome, eliminating grooming and using a bit more fencing to slow things down would make things a lot more safe. Don't think that idea is going anywhere though.
Edited by CTKook - 12/10/09 at 7:10am