Do Use Your Head By Using A Helmet

You’re getting on the ski lift to ride those powder white slopes, and whether it’s your first or your 17th time, you’ve probably at one point or another seen someone around you wearing a hat like object on their head that resembles something between a hippy colored house fern and a jester’s hat, bells and all. At first, the look of it is ridiculous, until you see the same person leap off the chair lift and go flying expertly down the mountain leaving only a fine spray behind them as well as a light twinkling from the bells of their jester like hat. I can in no way guarantee or reassure anyone to the ability these hats would have in providing protection if they were to go flying head first into a tree or other solid stationary object. I can, however, say that being comfortable and making a statement using head gear during extreme sports such as skiing and snowboarding, and yes they are extreme, does not always have to be a sign of your lack of expertise or ability on the mountain.

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More and more kids of the teenage bracket are showing up on the mountain sides across the country and the world. Winter sports have come a long way since the days of posh, well to do, skiers gracing the slopes with their designer ski outfits and polished poles. As snowboarding snowballed into popularity during the 90’s, the old clichés of spandex ski pants for women, and men sitting by fires smoking their pipes set to a background of snowy Colorado went right out the window. Somewhat crazy stunts, looks, names and faces started popping up every where, sometimes also in the emergency rooms.

While I cannot say I am an avid skier, or even that good a novice, I can say I have had my fair share of skiing experiences, good and bad. My first memory of skiing was at the age of 8, arriving in Vail, Colorado, and seeing snow for the first time in my life. It was overwhelming and magical. The first thing my mom did was stick me and my older brother in a class where the kids ranged from non-speaking German tourists, to me and my purple faux fur hood ski jacket. We were scared, we had fun, and we fell, oh did we fall. Not once, however, did I recall seeing anyone wearing a helmet of any type. I still remember pondering why it is that when I am at home and riding a bike that I can barely get up to a mile an hour, my mom lectures me into wearing a helmet. While these people who can go flying by at an average speed of 35 miles-per-hour seem to pay no mind to how dangerous a situation they are putting their skulls into, and how easy it would be to put their minds at ease, and out of harms way, by just strapping on some protective head gear.

While it is true that snowboarding can be the more dangerous of the two popular snow sports, and the participants would therefore benefit more from the use of helmets, it cannot be denied that if a helmet can essentially prevent you from cracking your cranium open or prevent you from enduring a massive concussion whatever sport you are participating in at the time, then my question is what reasons are there not to wear one? Statistics show that only 15% to 24% of all skiers and snowboarders wear helmets on the slope all the time. Excuses have ranged from “my kids might need one, but with my experience I never fall” to “I will look like an inexperienced fool going up to the slopes wearing a hard hat on my head.”

Just like when your parents gave you words of caution in driving, its not only about being a safe driver yourself, its about having the responsibility and caution to watch out for other driver’s carelessness, or in this case, other people on the slopes. My boyfriend is a great skier, due in part to his experience starting at the age of five, but that didn’t prevent me from accidentally giving him a black eye and a major headache when I went flying backwards down a slope and planted his head right into my knee while he attempted to help me. As for style, it’s not hard to find companies these days that are devoted to the task of creating the most stylish and personalized head gear possible for skiers and snowboarders alike. These days, helmets are seen on the most skilled and professional skiers, riders, and racers and are more a mark of professionalism than foolishness.

There’s nothing better than experiencing the thrill of the icy wind in your hair, the swooshing of the snow passing your legs, and the almost blindingly gorgeous scenery around you. But when you head uncontrollable for that large pine tree or realize you’re about to come into full contact with an out of control novice, wouldn’t it be more assuring to worry about a few minor leg fractures or bruises, rather than the lights going out and never coming back on? So, before you hit the slopes, slip on your boots, slop on your sunscreen, and slap on a helmet, because the last thing you want to do is sit this snow season out lying in bed with an ice pack on your noggin.

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