My Dad always made me wear a helmet when I was skiing growing up, which I found ironic because he never did. I would always challenge him because I was difficult and ask why I had to if he didn’t, and his reply was always something along the lines of ‘when you’re older you can make whatever decision you want.’ Well I’m older now and I still wear a helmet. But last weekend I forgot my helmet at home and it sucked. I found myself skiing not nearly as aggressively as I usually do, didn’t hit features that I typically would, and that just didn’t allow me to enjoy myself as much as I should have.
I used to think there was a correlation between skiing ability and wearing a helmet; that better skiers didn’t need to wear one because they don’t fall as much. That made sense to 14 year old me. Hindsight being 20/20, that rationale is as idiotic as not wearing a helmet itself. Now I believe the polar opposite- the better the skier the more they should wear a helmet. Fact of the matter is if you’re a beginner, or just starting out skiing or riding, chances are you’re not going to sustain a head injury severe enough to pose any sort of significant damage. Yes I know that is a sweeping generalization, but more often than not true. You’re probably not moving fast enough and our instincts tell us to put our hands out to break a fall, but when a more advanced skier is ripping it down a groomer, threading through tight tree lines, or hucking themselves off cliffs they don’t have nearly as much time to react and the consequences are significantly more severe. That goes without saying.
I’m not sure where I stand as to whether or not resorts should start mandating skiers to wear one, but they should implore you to. And in our society, as litigious as it is, people will sue over anything and everything, which got me thinking that maybe resorts should offer some sort of incentive for wearing a helmet; something small like $5 off your lift ticket or a free drink that would hardly affect their profit margins, and would also be a good PR move. Also, just why wouldn’t you? I think that years ago when helmets were not nearly as aesthetic as they are now I can see that being a reason, although not a good one. Now though, I can’t think of any reasons other than arrogance, ignorance, or vanity. In addition to maintaining the location of your brain inside the conformity of your skull, they also keep your head warm.
I ask you this question to put things into perspective: if you could make time stand still seconds before an accident, and were to ask a skier who is about to crash if they wished they had a helmet on, what do you think their answer would be? The obvious answer is yes, what a stupid question that is. But in effect, by not wearing a helmet the implication is you’re going to roll the dice, and bank on both you never having a freak accident yourself, but also that no one on the mountain that day will have an accident that involves you. Do you wear a seatbelt solely to protect yourself from car crashes that would be entirely your fault? Or to protect you from other people on the road also? The circumstances in both situations are analogous. We know that wearing helmets gives us a better chance to shield our brains, so what’s the reason for risking it?