After Oliver Townend’s fall at Rolex, his inflatable vest was widely attributed for saving him from more serious injury.
Now it seems like his helmet should be getting the credit for protecting him. According to an article on the U.K. website Horsemart:
Oliver sent the Champion Ventair helmet that he was wearing at Kentucky back to the Champion factory in Cardiff, so that their technical experts could evaluate the extent of the damage. While the internal damage was described as ‘extensive’, on the outside the only evidence of damage to the helmet is a slight scuff mark. When the hat was stripped apart at the Champion factory, however, the shock absorbing polystyrene liner of Oliver’s damaged helmet was shown to have been crushed at the front left side down to 11mm, while the pictures taken of the stripped helmet also clearly show a crack on the opposite side where the liner has been crushed to 17mm. A new undamaged liner is approx 21mm at these points, a difference of up to 10mm. Further examination of the helmet also showed a large indent in the rear left lower side of the liner, which technical experts believe was made by the impact with the log, with measurements showing the liner had been crushed at this point to 13mm, which compares again to the 21mm thickness of a new liner.
If you needed a reason why you should replace your helmet after a fall where you hit your head, this should convince you. Perhaps all top riders should have their helmets tested and let the results be published. It might convince a few skeptics that it’s better to have your helmet absorb the force of a fall than your head.