Sep 21, 2011

The Ice Halo®

I've been wearing the Ice Halo®, generously loaned me for review by the company, for a week. I've been wearing it in all my classes, and did a brief moves practice with it.

I am sold. It's moderately distracting when you first step on the ice, but no more than is a new costume with fussy bits, and I think because the one I've been wearing is fur, that's what I'm seeing. After about 5 minutes you forget it's there. Lots of compliments, because, well, it's very attractive. People would tell me "love your hat" and I would get to say "it's actually a helmet!" Many oohs and aahs. It's a little warm, but I wore it as long as 4 hours at a stretch, and it would just get moderately sweaty; not to the point of distraction or discomfort. This might be different for an extended high-level practice; I would suggest that the company investigate developing a "competitors" version with better moisture wicking.

One of the best things about it is that even if it shifts (which it never did), it's a ring, so it doesn't affect vision no matter what part is forward, unlike a full helmet.

I tested it on as many different types of skaters as I could- "baby" competitors, LTS class and LTS privates, high level multiple rotation jumpers, adults, and coaches.

SF (7-years old, FS3 class) Loved it. Mom loved it. Skated an entire lesson, doing all warmups, moves, jumps and spins. Stayed in place, looked adorable. Class coach thought it was a hat, or possibly is too self-absorbed to actually notice stuff like this. Her private lesson coach was receptive.

SBM (6 years old, Gamma private) Also loved it, and, again, mother also loved it. This is a child who can be fussy and difficult, but she put it on and forgot it was there. It did not shift for the entire lesson. I'm her private coach, so I'm on board. If it comes in turquoise, that's a sale.

Coach Fashionista: gave it 3 seconds, for a 7 year old child in FS2. Not, "let's go around one time and then see", not "hey mom, what's the deal?" Just a completely closed mind. This is going to be the biggest hurdle for this company. I think a coach this closed-minded about it can have a huge effect-even if the parents are adamant about a child wearing head gear (even such innocuous and fashionable head gear as this), the parent is going to lose, because a child will not go against a coach on this. Further, once a coach has made such a fuss about it (the mother described her reaction as "vehement") it's over-that child will never wear safety equipment. I feel bad that the kid lost face over this.

Adult free style class: very resistant, despite the fact that one of them is the mother of a student and was fine with testing it on the child, and that I know this is a group of skaters who really trust me. But they had lots of reasons why it could not even be tested-- sloping forehead, no one else wears it, I don't like fake fur, it's hot, I'll look silly (this after complimenting me on it, so either I actually look silly, or they were just making noise).

SR (very skittish adult, class) Would not even try it, despite the fact that she is clearly terrified of falling. First she complained that it would mess up her hair (the lesson is at 8:30 at night--what, she's going clubbing after this?). Then she decided it would be distracting (mind you she hadn't put it on her head). Unfortunately, the adults were universally the most resistant to it, even though they are the group who would benefit most, as I would venture that far the majority of head injuries I have observed have been adults.

Giordano and Davis (2010 US National Juvenile Ice Dance Champions): After an initial period of distraction, just fine. As I suspected, they felt it was hot, which might be mitigated by using the microfleece. Angel felt she could not do a layback with it on, it didn't feel secure, so this would be a definite issue for a competitive lady. They liked the idea of using these just when bringing new lifts onto the ice.

GJ (5 years old, Delta private, that's her in the picture) 'nuff said. All the 4- and 5-year olds did this. Every. Single. One. Get a skateboard helmet for the really little ones. (NOT a bike helmet--you want a helmet that fits close to the head, with good peripheral visibility and no points, which can force the neck to snap forward.)

Nora (professional skater, my daughter) Like all the high level skaters, she thought it was fine, but couldn't imagine ever wearing it. She ran through spins, jumps and moves and had no problems with anything, including the layback, probably because she was wearing it a little lower on the back of her head. She liked the warmth.

Chelsea (Senior ladies competitor) ditto Nora. All the high skaters who tried it claimed that high level skaters don't need safety equipment, while then proceeding to tell me all the awful injuries they have either witnessed or experienced. Sigh.

Manol (Bulgarian Junior Men's Champion) Like all the boys, he immediately "tested" it, by diving full speed at the ice and banging his head. No apparent effect, but with Manol, a head injury might just look like business as usual.

Stitch (St. Lidwina's kid) liked it, but Coach apparently had an apoplexy over it. He immediately started banging his head against the boards (he's short) "to see if it works."

The Noisyboys really liked it, but were extremely distracted by it, not because it was innately distracting, but because they are very distractable (this could be a general problem with boys and some of the crazier girls; the novelty of it was the main attraction). They also had a predictable boy reaction--punching each other in the head, yes "to see if it works." On the whole, however, their verdict was "yes." They wanted a better fit, but of course I had limited options for them.

Currently, these seem best for recreational skaters, who unfortunately are the least likely to suffer head bangs, at least on a per capita basis. The company would do well do develop lines for rental facilities and ones that specifically address the needs of competitive skaters. For rentals there needs to be a way to overcome the no-hat-sharing problem (because of epidemic head lice in some parts of the continent), especially since these are primarily cloth. Perhaps removable, replaceable (or washable) liners or covers (that's an on-going revenue source too!), and/or a plastic fashion side?

The other difficult hurdle is the coaches. ALL of the older and most of the competitive coaches were not fans, ranging from skeptical to scoffing to actively hostile. The Russians all hated it, and I caught at least one making fun of me. For something like this to catch on, I think the clubs and federations (SkateCanada and USFS) would have to make it required equipment, starting at the lower levels. Nearly every youth sport that you can think of requires safety equipment, in particular head protection, but somehow in figure skating it's anathema (not "pretty " I guess).

So here's the tl;dr (too long, didn't read)--it's a great product. I think it should be required equipment, especially for adult beginners. Buy it.

At this writing, I have not received any remuneration, products for personal use, or promises from Ice Halo.


  1. "Manol (Bulgarian Junior Men's Champion) Like all the boys, he immediately "tested" it, by diving full speed at the ice and banging his head. No apparent effect, but with Manol, a head injury might just look like business as usual."

    This (and Stitch banging his head) is kind of nice to hear. I've always wondered how much this actually works.

    I think something like this would be nice for my power class, where I'm hesitant to skate super fast backwards (because my power class takes place on LTS ice, and sometimes there is a meanderer out on the ice), and also for 8 step mohawk, which I am terrifed of as "the concussion move". I am probably too self concious to wear it during all my skatnig, but maybe if I phased it in over winter when lots of skaters wear earwarmers, no one would think otherwise? It is expensive though, so maybe it will just go on my Christmas list.

    Right now I've just grown my hair out and keep a bun on the back of my head. I've heard antecdotal evidence that some people feel that has saved them a pretty bad bump, and instead just gave them a minor one.

    I don't fall much though, so almost every fall I have is a bad one. Wish I could figure out how to be one of those skaters who falls a lot, and just gets up. (I think I was with my current coach for 6 months before he saw me fall.)

  2. Jessim, everyone just thinks it's a hat.

  3. Yeah, and a hat would be weird...

    The fuzzy one looks WAY too big, but the other one doesn't look to bad.

    I'll admit, I am one of the adults who worries that I will look silly. I already have to go to the mall in LEGGINGS and worry about what normal people think of me, with this, I also have to worry about what skaters think.

    BTW- This is Skittl1321/Skittles_Skates. I had to change my name since I am blogging for my university now under my blogger account.

  4. Having just watched my friend's brand new LTS 4-yr-old in her first lesson with a bike helmet on, I might add (if the Halo company is listening), that these could usefully come in at least a couple of sizes. The poor little mite was wearing her bike helmet for lessons -- better than nothing, obviously, but sadly obscuring her vision. None of us could see her eyes under the visor, which led me to wonder if SHE could see anything at all while skating. At her current level (gripping-the-orange-bucket-in-trepidation, aka Snowplow 1), she can probably see well enough. But in a few weeks, she'll just be hampered and annoyed by the helmet and would be in heaven by comparison with a halo on--except the ones I see pictured here would probably slide right down over her tiny head and become a necklace.

  5. Check the site. It comes in multiple sizes. But I don't think it's a solution for really little kids, because it's too easy to move around--I tried it on six different 4 and 5 year olds and every single one of them immediately pulled it over his or her eyes and started to giggle. Skateboarders helmet is the solution for the little one.

  6. Yes, I checked the site, and that's what I mean. 20-22" is too big for most 4 and 5 yr olds. BUT, I bet if they made an 18-20" size, a whole generation of tots would start out wearing these for skating, so that by the time they go to higher levels, it would just be habit. And it would look a whole lot less silly than putting a bike helmet on a kid learning doubles, so they might actually KEEP wearing it when they really need it. I'd buy one today for my 5 yr old for that very reason, if I thought it would actually stay put and not just slide down over her eyes.

  7. Hello everyone!

    We've been reading the posts and find that we're seeing the same results as is typical for a 'first time reaction' to the Ice Halo!

    It's amazing the number of times we hear that the coaches are adamant against head protection - yet how many of them are willing to tell you about the number of students they've had to help off the ice - or watch as they get carried off the ice unconscious, with serious head injuries during practice? How many are there when the students are older and suffering from constant headaches and vision problems from too many head injuries?

    We aren't saying that the coaches are bad for denying skaters the 'right' to a softer landing for their head....we just don't agree with them any more than they agree with us - that being said - more and more coaches are coming on board with the Ice Halo than ever before, so we'll just keep working on them!

    We do know that making the jump from no head protection to head protection being mandatory is a long haul process (IE Hockey took a LONG time before helmets were mandatory!)

    And don't worry about the Russians... we've just started selling over there this month (we didn't even advertise over there, a Russian Skater saw it when she was skating in California last month and decided she wanted it for practice "back home" and ordered online) and it's getting more popular every time she is seen wearing it - as happens in every new location! So the orders from Russia are increasing daily. It catches on like wildfire - people fall, they get hurt, they don't like the pain and suffering, they research, find the Ice Halo and the rest is history.

    We DO sell an X-Small! We just don't have it listed on our online order form because we worry that people will order it for children too big to have an X-S on their heads and it's important that it fit properly! Sorry for the confusion!! We can put it on the website for ordering under a separate link to ensure this doesn't happen - thanks for the input!

    Also, we are currently working with a new company that manufactures a great wicking material, so we're going to be covering the "too hot / sweat band" issue shortly.

    Just as a reminder to anyone who does wear the Ice Halo - it needs to be worn correctly, it isn't a 'hat'. It needs to be adjusted to fit securely around the head, small at the front, wide at the back, lower on the back so it doesn't pop off during laybacks or falls!

    Our video shows the correct way to wear it, and we've verified that it stays on during any practice jumps, spins, etc.

    Thank you all for your comments - they are taken seriously and we will make sure any issues (ie sweat) are looked after!

    If any of you have any questions or would like to order an X-Small, please don't hesitate to contact me directly at

    Thank you Xan, for taking the time to fully test our product (we'll get in touch when our newest one is ready for testing!) and I'm pleased with the results of your blog - we've had numerous emails for more information and to order the X-Small already!

    Warmest regards,
    Barbara Armstrong
    Ice Halo Ltd.
    (705) 728-1561

  8. As an adult beginner skater, I can tell you that it messes up your hair far more to smack your head on the ice.

    I mean, really. I look like a colt on ice some days. If I were vain, this would not be the sport for me. ;-)

    Skater Grrrl tried another makers version that isn't as big and has compression gel in front and back. (I also got one for Soccer Grrrl after THREE kids in her leagues suffered slow brain bleeds from head collisions.) Soccer Grrrl will wear it - it looks like a sweat band. Skater Grrrl tried some jumps in it and fussed. However, with bigger jumps coming up, I'm probably going to insist.

    I think I'd like the fur Halo because it would look like one of the fur hats all the Russian coaches seem to wear. :-)

    On the topic, I wish skating rinks would do those concussion pre-tests that football and hockey are doing. On the other hand, I rarely see skaters get back on the ice after a head smack - maybe because there's no pressure of a game to finish and a whole team looking on to see how "macho" you are? I don't know.

  9. UPDATE: now here is a great company! I emailed Ice Halo this morning to suggest a size extra small (18-20"), with a few lines about the conversation here, and they already emailed me back! The DO make an extra small, only it isn't yet listed on their site because they were concerned that people would order something too small for their young kids. They were very kind and said one could order the extra small via email until they get their web guru to fix the site and add that to the web inventory. Any company with speedy response like that gets my double vote. I thought you'd like to know, in case you want to spread the word at your rink that there IS a size for the smaller set. (I'll be ordering for my daughter this weekend!)

  10. Aw, Jessim! I wouldn't worry about it! I know - I mean, I *know* how hard it is to get on ice as an adult, especially if you're surrounded by little ones and the parents in the stands looking on.

    Some days I think the other non-skater adults in the stands think I'm loony to begin with. But honestly, I'm pretty sure they are envious at times. Even when I wear roller derby pads under my leggings and look more like a Booty Queen than a Beauty Queen, you know?

  11. I have to tell you, it looks really really nice. As far as head injuries, they are rarer on ice than in the impact sports, but common enough that it should be a concern.

  12. Changing the rink culture, step by step! For sure kids will benefit from wearing SOME protection, and these are much more fashionable than helmets.

    After the back of my head had 2 direct contacts with the ice, I was actively looking for proper protection. I bought an ice halo 2 years ago (Adult S wolf faux fur) and skated approximately 3 or 4 sessions in it. Lots of people like its look and indeed thought it's a cute hat.

    Choosing the fur version over micro fleece was likely a mistake, it was way too hot to my indoor skating practices (90 minutes, FS2/3). I sweat in winter hat (messing up hair in the process), but with ice halo my head was burning in dizziness. Better outdoor, but then the top of my head was too cold. The biggest issue was never feeling secure / snug enough. It could be just perception or head shape mismatch, my head generally does not hold headbands very well due to slippage. End result: I switched to snowboard helmet for several months, which worked fine spinning and jumping. Then I started padding a winter hat with gel pads and attached a chin strap. So far so good!

    Maybe I should give micro fleece versions another try, chances are they are more comfortable and snug.

    (While we are here, skatingsafe gel pads are excellent investments too!)

  13. I have to say that jjane looks really adorable in her hat. I did not realize it was padded. Sounds like another product line!

  14. Thanks Xan!

    Quote: Somehow in figure skating it's anathema (not "pretty " I guess).

    Safety equipments are not allowed (fact check?) / desirable in competitions or shows. One argument I keep hearing is if the skater develops dependency, it will negatively impact competition performance, like holding back, or getting shocked by the pain if there is a fall. Pain from everyday falls and the risk of injury are things to be "sucked" with proud.

    OTOH, my theory is to learn and master new elements in confidence with protective gear. By the time skater is 100% ready to compete or test, the comfort level is high enough that chances of injury are greatly reduced. Competitions and tests only consist of a little portion of skater's total training days, risk is obviously reduced by probability too.

    Now Murphy's law is something else, lol.

  15. "Safety equipments are not allowed (fact check?) / desirable in competitions or shows."

    I believe there is no actual rule against safety equipment is competitions. You are right they aren't desirable, people think it ruins the aesthitic.

    I had seen a story of a skater competiting in a helmet after an accident, and it took some serious google fu, but I found it:

    It sounds like the helmet saved her from some even more serious injury, because it looks like the skate didn't go well.

    I don't know anything about this woman and if she continued skating, and if she did how long she kept the helmet.

  16. Thank you so much for finding that link, Jessim! Safety Equipment is not "not allowed" - it's simply "not desirable" - which, brings up the topic: does it look desirable when the unthinkable happens and a skater is lying on the ice, dazed, possibly unconscious and/or bleeding, and carried off?!

    Hockey players never saw it as a thing of dependency to wear a helmet - they thought it wouldn't look macho or cool. They ended up with serious repeat concussions, and later developed ALS, Alzheimers, or brain anurisms so often that the associations finally agreed helmets would have to become a mandatory piece of equipment.

    This is precisely the reasoning behind the Ice Halo! It was invented after I slipped on the ice "curling" not "Skating" and suffered a serious concussion - leading to two weeks off the ice and three months before my vision came back completely :-(

    Quoting from the site you found: The paragraph:

    **If someone recovering from a concussion has another similar injury, the results can be devastating and result in second impact syndrome. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center describes this as "when someone, usually an athlete, suffers a second blow or violent snapping of the head while they're still suffering the effects of a previous concussion. When this happens, severe hematoma can result with the patient quickly losing consciousness, and in many cases, lapsing into a coma and dying from respiratory failure caused by extreme pressure on the brain stem."

    After further visits to the neurosurgeon, Tomarchio was diagnosed with a level three concussion.***

    The fact that Tomarchio went on the ice in a helmet 'after the fact' is great! At least she made the gutsy move to keep herself safe! What we're hoping to do, however, is get to the people BEFORE the level three concussions!

    While Ice Halo would be more than happy to have everyone purchase an Ice Halo - I'd be more than happy just thinking people were getting something to seriously protect their head.

    We are always promoting safety on the ice or in any area where people could hurt their head in a fall, be it with an Ice Halo or a helmet - make sure whatever you are using has been tested and proven to reduce the impact G's sufficiently!

    Our motto says it all:
    Protect Your Greatest Asset!

  17. .I'm an adult skater and I'm scared of spinning, I can't even do a two foot spin because I might fall and hit my head. I have seen people on public skate sessions fall and hit their heads. I have been thinking of buying a hat made by Ignite with this d3o material and it looks like a regular hat.

    There's ribcap with d3o but I don't like how it looks.Here a review off of amazon for ribcap w/d3o:

    "This hat that simply looks like a stocking cap is a protective hat, originally made for snowboarders. My daughter is a figure skater who has had several mild concussions. The only other option, before finding this ribhat, was a bike helmet. Try to get a figure skater of any age to wear a bike helmet on the ice...laughable. My daughter was willing to wear this and has gotten many compliments on how cute it is...then when they find out, (coaches, parents, skaters), that it is more than a fashion statement, many have been very interested in it and think it's a great idea. My daughter, instead of tying the strings under her neck, rubberbands them into her pigtails and the hat stays on very nicely and still looks...cute. The only thing that this doesn't work for, where the hat doesn't stay on her head, is when doing laybacks. My daughter is 16 and performs triples with the hat on and it stays on!!! This hat has been a godsent, because before it came along, with my daughters concussions, she had finally built up a fear and was psychologically frozen from performing her jumps. Now she is back to doing triples again! We call it the magic hat. At $100, it may seem expensive for something that looks like a stocking cap, but that is nothing when protecting a head. I only wish we had discovered it before her concussions."

  18. The Ripcap would be a great option for the very young ones who fussed with the ice halo. Thanks!

  19. This was on the ribcap page. That is disappointing: Q - Will you get more stock?
    A - No, what's on the site is what we have in stock. Ribcaps with d3o aren't manufactured anymore.

  20. The discussion makes me curious, out of all the concussion-worthy head injuries, what are the top 3 areas of impact? Back of the head for sure, what about others: side, top, top-back, forehead, chin, eyes, temple...?

    Ribcap looks interesting, wonder if more people used it? Vaguely remember comments about the phrase "upon impact its molecules lock together" somewhere else.

  21. I am a FS 5 skater and I bought the ice halo when I was in FS 3 because I slammed my head into the ice and had a concussion. I didn't want to be off the ice for that long again, so I invested in the ice halo. Mine was a fur one, and it was hot during my private lessons- they were an hour long and intensive. I would have to take it off briefly to cool down, but to me it was worth it to have the security. I also didn't become dependent on it- I was fine in competition w/ o it. But every practice, lesson, and group session, I wore it.

    There were a few younger girls in the lower levels that had them too. So I didn't feel totally weird. I did get teased about it- because mine was brown, it was like a weird hat. And my private coach called it my toilet bowl cover... but I knew he wasn't being mean about it. It did look rediculous, but it was comfortable and I felt protected.


  22. Nobody at my rink wore any protection (except a few adults with wrist guards) until an influential coach got all her skaters, starting with the higher level ones, to wear butt pads. Now almost all her skaters, and plenty of other skaters have them. I think it needs something similar to happen at each rinks or in each area with head protection for it to really catch on.

    If coaches get behind it, it will take off.

    Have said that, I'm an adult skater, rarely fall, and when i do, tend to hit my bum, so would go for butt pads rather than a head protector (plus I get hot skating anyway!)

  23. jjane, I don't have specific stats on this, but empirically I will say again that "impact" injuries are rare--you get a lot of soft tissue strains and tears in the joints. Number one skating injury is stress fractures from overtraining, then soft tissue. Of the impact injuries- wrist, head, knees, in that order. I have seen two broken ankles, but they were absolute freak accidents (both, incidentally, adults).

    You cannot protect against all injuries in any athletic activity. Sports are inherentely dangerous. But this is all the more reason to find ways, especially with children, to take reasonable precautions. When I was a child, playgrounds were paved in blacktop (asphalt), in fact, we didn't call it the playground, we called it the blacktop. The simple step of replacing the surface with mulch (also sustainable, btw), has probably saved lives.

    Figure skating needs to take these steps as well, starting with cushioned boards and properly maintained rental skates, and insisting on safety equipment like the ice halo.

  24. The head smacks I've seen have been mostly on public ice - little top-heavy kids or adults on ice with their first-time younger kids.

    I did see one adult skater go down in a freakish spill - and those seem to be the spills that get everyone. It's not going into a big jump (high level skaters seem to "know how to fall" almost like martial artists), but unexpectedly hitting a divot on the ice during a spiral or three-turns, etc.

    The only other time there was a big head bang was a high level skater doing a program and a another skater went right under his knees, causing a full somersault onto his head.

    Sports are dangerous and I agree...there are risk that we all sign up for. I also agree that your head is your head and a brain injury is more debilitating than a sprained wrist. After seeing two young low-level soccer players relearning how to walk after brain bleeds, an ounce of prevention - even if just during practice - could seem like a million dollars.

  25. I bought an ice halo while re-learning how to skate after surgery. I am an adult who skated as a kid. I have never fallen on my head but I am now much slower and my balance is compromised. With slow, unexpected falls an injury is more likely.

    I have worn the ice halo every time I practice for 6 months. The company shipped it to me quickly and I was impressed with the service (thanks!). I have only skated once without it since it arrived, and that was to test an international dance. I contemplated testing in it but at the last minute decided it didn't really go with a Cha Cha dress.

    People comment on it, some make fun of it, I don't care. I think this is a great product. I wish I had this back when I was doing lifts.

    Terri Levine

  26. Alice in WonderlandOctober 2, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    Daughter tried on Xan's tester last week, thought it was distracting, but after much discussion she said she was afraid of what people will think. She fell Sat. morning and smacked her head, and now we're off the the MD tomorrow. We again discuss the Ice Halo, and she's still tentative, so I'm hoping the MD can help us with this stubborn child. After the MD visit, we're buying one. Perhaps I'll threaten with revoking nutcracker solo!

  27. Another girl at the rink who has now had three concussion-inducing falls showed up in a soccer helmet ( This is a nice, close-fitting helmet; only drawback was that it doesn't have good protection for the back of the head. But it cover the critical spots and fits much more snugly than the Ice Halo. She had pulled a hat over it to hide it, but this looked, sadly really stupid. It was actually much less obvious without the hat.

  28. I am definitely buying the Ice Halo. I am an adult skater and I was doing my camel spin yesterday and caught my edge and landed on my backside and my head hit the ice. Thank you so much :)

    1. Don't forget to mention Xanboni for the discount!

  29. I'm an adult learner. I fell badly - bum, shoulder blades, head. Minor concussion ensued. I bought the Ice Halo soon after, in pretty pastel blue. Many, many people at the rink have asked me where I got it. The rink is now selling the Ice Halo in their shop.

    I skate at a new rink here in Australia. They have free helmets to go with their rental skates. We've had mandatory bike helmet laws for 20 years, so acceptance of helmets is much greater.

    Funnily enough, my coach has a Russian background. The week following my accident I turned up in a helmet. She gently tapped and said "this is a good idea!". I also wear wrist guards... but I've had all the babies I want so am less concerned about breaking my tailbone!

  30. My daughter was seriously injured practicing with her synchro team. Another skater's blade hit her just below the temple. Had a depressed skull fracture, emergency neurosurgery to elevate fracture. They didn't put a plate in after they told her they would and the plate would make her skull stronger. It was devastating for her to learn that they just removed the bone. She said she would never skate again. A friend suggested the Ice Halo. We have looked into it and it is going to give her the confidence to get back on the ice. Thank you for providing a safety device that isn't a helmet!