Brain bucket just makes sense
December 5, 2003
For decades helmets were only worn by the most aggressive and talented skiers –primarily racers. In recent years helmets have become more and more prolific on the nation’s ski hills.
What was once thought of as an error in style has now become a common sight among local skiers and snowboarders.
But are helmets really needed or was the demand simply created by some stuffy marketing people in an effort to pinch a few more hard earned dollars from the struggling ski bum?
Almost everyone I talked too wears a helmet. The few that don’t are beginners who don’t ride rails, trees or don’t feel they go fast enough to justify spending the money on a helmet. This seems to be common reasoning for not wearing a helmet.
On the expert side of the argument: I never fall, what do I need a helmet for?
However, go into the terrain park on a weekday and you will see plenty of people jibbing the big features without a helmet. Most of the pro snowboarders don’t wear helmets either. There are plenty of films out there featuring skiers and riders getting inverted without helmets.
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According to a poll on skihelmets.com, 42 percent of readers responded they currently wear a helmet, 13 percent do not and 45 percent are planning on wearing helmets sometime in the near future.
This poll is admittedly biased – if you aren’t interested in wearing a helmet why would you visit a Web page promoting helmets. None the less, helmets have become a common addition to most peoples on-hill gear.
For a long time I didn’t wear a helmet. I had no reason, I just figured I wasn’t riding aggressively enough to justify the purchase. Then, one powder day at Breckenridge I stormed an unseen gully and hit my head so hard my goggles broke. I bought new goggles the next day. Later that season I broke my leg and separated my shoulder on a rail. Still I didn’t buy a helmet.
The following season I moved to Vail. Early on in the season I stopped on a small rise just into the trees. Getting back onto the run I caught my board on some underbrush. I was barley moving but gravity pulled my body down the backside of the hill. I spun my board around just in time to crack a rib and my head against a tree. It was the hardest hit I have taken on a board. I hadn’t even started moving yet. The next day I bought a helmet.
The next season I lost the clip on the strap of my helmet hiking Ptarmigan Ridge. I rode the rest of the season without clipping my helmet strap. I rode with my helmet unstrapped until I fell going slow and goofing around on a green run. My helmet fell off. I drove my forehead into my over-turned helmet.
I sat there stunned trying to clear my head as I watched my helmet slowly spin down the hill. I noticed it starting to pick up speed. It was spinning out of control down the hill. Runaway helmet! I got up and rode as fast as I could to catch up with it. Turns out helmets are worthless if you don’t buckle the strap. This season I have a new clip.
With increasing skier numbers combined with the inherent dangers of the sport it seems silly not to invest the money in a helmet. You never can tell who or what might run into you.