The International Ski Federation (FIS) announced Tuesday that its new air bag safety system will debut January 10 at the World Cup women’s downhill in Austria, the Associated Press reports. Italian manufacturer Dainese designed the air bags to inflate when a racer has irredeemably lost control, padding the skier’s neck, shoulders, arms, and backbone.
The FIS had originally planned the debut for December, but its postponed its approval in late October. The original design made skiers’ back protectors thicker than 45 millimeters, which violated equipment rules.
Now corrected and approved, the air bag may be used in World Cup training sessions until its official introduction in January. The system can deploy in 100 milliseconds and absorbs 61 percent of the impact, Vittorio Cafaggi of Dainese told 3 News NZ last winter. The FIS stopped short of making the air bags mandatory.