“We would have been able to sell four times as many helmets as we are able to provide,” director of helmet manufacturer Alpina, Ronald Siller, told news agency DDP, adding that he is sold out for the rest of the season.
Althaus suffered serious brain injury on January 1 when he collided with another skier at an intersection between two slopes on a piste in the Obersteiermark ski area of Austria. The other skier, a 41-year-old Slovakian woman, died of her injuries on the way to hospital. She wasn't wearing head protection, meanwhile doctors have said Althaus probably survived because he was wearing a helmet.
But not everyone believes the Althaus-Effekt is soley responsible for a national shortage of ski helmets.
“If you have a look around the slopes, you can see that helmets are a growing trend,” shop manager of the Uvex Safety Group Markus Winning said, pointing out that 55 percent of skiers already wear head protection, in addition to 70 percent of snowboarders.
“We could already see in December that we would be sold out by the end of January at the latest,” Siller explained. According to him, the dramatic accident has only sped things up.
“We'd already had eight to ten times as many orders as the previous year - before the Althaus accident,” he said. “After the crash the demand has increased about three to four times again.”
Both Uvex and Alpina were able to adapt to the market and have increased helmet production, but business rival K2 wasn't able to cope with demand. “We produce in China and therefore couldn't really react on the run,” a company spokesperson said. “We were already sold out mid-December.”