Santa Cruz, California, at the intersection of surf and mountains, attracts people of an independent mindset: outdoors people, iconoclasts who set their own priorities, more inclined to put human values ahead of corporate interests. Counterintuitively, it turns out that Santa Cruz, a place where business shuts down when the surf is up, has proven to be a powerful entrepreneurial incubator.
Giro was founded in 1985 by Jim Gentes and is the leader in high performance snow goggles and snow helmets for those who love action sports and live active lifestyles. Their mission is to create products on the leading edge of inspired design that look, fit and feel like a part of you, and allow you to be at your best.
The Giro product line covers many categories, from bike to snow; from helmets to goggles to footwear to soft goods. But each and every one of these items was born from a need, a dream or an opportunity to enhance the ride.
Skiers have traditionally worn helmets only when required (e.g., small children, competitors). Yet over the last few years, as helmets get stylish design makeovers and safety awareness increases, skiers and snowboarders have become more receptive to helmets on the ski hill. Far beyond just another color option or headphone-integrated helmets, MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) was developed in conjunction with Swedish neurosurgeon Hans von Holst. In 1997, von Holst, who was tired of seeing similar brain injuries in athletes, began to investigate how to build a safer helmet. His focus became attempting to mimic the brain’s protective mechanisms based on the way cerebrospinal fluid cushions the brain against rotational impact.
Not many skiers fall in a direct, vertical impact on their head, but they do hit fixed objects at oblique angles quite a bit. In fact, rotational impacts account for the vast majority of accidents and subsequent brain injury. The brain’s built-in protective mechanism allows the brain to slide after impact, on a layer of cerebrospinal fluid found between the skull and brain tissue. Most action sports impacts, however, vastly exceed the protective ability of this natural system.
Studying the brain’s built-in defenses, von Holst and his team of biomechanical engineers developed a corresponding amplification to be built unobtrusively into Giro snowboarding helmets. The result is a low-friction, movable layer between the liner and the helmet shell, which helps to decrease the rotational acceleration of your brain inside your skull after impact. According to MIPS, the Giro snowboarding helmets system reduces the rotational impact on brain tissue by as much as 50 percent over a traditional helmet.
The first Giro snowboarding helmets equipped with MIPS were introduced in 2010.
As industry knowledge of MIPS increases, not only are more ski helmet makers signing on, but those in other sports are as well. From equestrians to off-road motorcycles, and mountain and road-bike offerings, the concept is gaining traction.
Giro has spent years collaborating with the designers behind MIPS. The technology was developed by scientists at the Karolinska Hospital and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. The concept is based on 19 years of academic research. Through their extensive trials, they believe that Giro snowboarding helmets equipped with this technology may provide an additional measure of protection in some impacts.
New Ideas to Enhance the Ride. We use these words often. Because for us, enhancing your ride (and, perhaps selfishly, enhancing our own) is the greatest motivator.