Ski Helmets

January 2, 2010

Yesterday’s New York Times contained an article on “Helmets Becoming More Common on Ski Slopes”:

once used exclusively by professional and competitive amateur skiers or snowboarders, helmets have become far more common across the United States and are now widely considered to be a critical piece of equipment, even for novices

This seems like an article that could have appeared in Canada’s Globe and Mail many years ago.  Whistler became our ski resort of choice in the mid-90s and we were awakened to helmet use upon enrolling Daniel and Mark in ski school.  The first two years we were able to sign a waiver so that they could ski without a helmet, but by 1997 it was policy at Whistler Mountain and so the helmets went onto the boys.  Not surprisingly, there was great resistance to wearing them except when in ski school.  Tobae and I added helmets to our gear in 1999 so that we had some credibility to go with our authority.

The article overly focuses on whether a helmet will help prevent death.  Skiers and riders prone to running into trees will likely not benefit.   But in a sport where falls are common, a helmet certainly lessens the severity of injuries.   I was glad I was wearing mine when I was run over by a snowboarder in 2006, with one point of landing being my head.

What is missed entirely from the article is the best reason to wear one is the comfort it brings.  Hard shell, well insulated…so much warmer and drier than a knit hat.  And subtle benefits for those of us that wear glasses under our goggles which creates many issues with condensation.  And while Tobae’s first helmet is now retired, it was quite the fashion statement, worthy of the Beach Boys:

Tobae's Leedom Ski Helmet