The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.

Helmets – Why I wear one and you should, too.

All helmet sales increased 23% in units 2008/2009 to 2009/2010. Junior helmet sales shot up 32%, and adult sales increased 21%.

Helmets are a big part of my life. By my last count, I own six (bike helmet, kayak helmet, climbing helmet, snowmobiling helmet and two ski helmets), and I have a nagging feeling that I’m leaving one out. But today, I’m going to tell you why you need to wear one skiing – all the time.

The year is 2002, and it’s a Colorado bluebird day. I met up with friends off and on for a few runs, but I was cruising Vail’s backbowls and enjoying the slush bumps. Towards the end of the day, I decided to make one last run before making my way down the resort and choose a blue  (intermediate) bump run, which was an easy slope for my ski ability. On my way down, I crossed my tips and predictably ate snow. While I wasn’t going fast I did bonk my head on the way down. Feeling a little dazed, I finished the run and got back on the chairlift, only to realize that I set myself up for another run before I could start to get out of the resort, which was surprising and frustrating. How could I have forgotten?

The next day I was back on campus at the University of Colorado and I got lost trying to find my next class. I called a friend for directions and started bawling. Apparently my snotty phone rant included my ski crash, feeling like crap, being extremely tired and general frustration that I could get lost a month into classes. My rugby-playing friend asked if I might have a concussion. Yup, that made sense.

“You wouldn’t play football without wearing a helmet – same rule applies for skiing. Plus helmets are way warmer than hats.”

— Lindsey Vonn

I was already out of the “danger” window for sleeping and whatnot (during which I slept – oops), but I ended up getting CAT scan, just in case. Nothing abnormal showed up (keep snide jokes to yourself, please), so I slowly coalesced at home. Going upstairs to the kitchen to get a drink of water made me winded and I slept more than when I had Mono in high school. Overall, I was lucky and the entire ordeal could have been entirely prevented by wearing a helmet.

I often see parents of young children cautiously lidding their kids while they themselves wear only a hat. This makes no sense. Part of the welfare of a child is taking precautions to ensure their parents stay alive. Even if you’re skiing well with your ability, my little analogy shows that accidents can happen – and don’t forget about the “everyone else” factor.

I had another ski instructor friend who was skiing green (beginner) runs with his class and slowly skiing a cat track on the way to lunch. An out-of-control boarder came flying out of the wooded section above the cat track, went airborne and crashed into the instructor, knocking him down with enough force to break his clavicle. His helmet cracked in two, but doctors said without his helmet, he’d be dead. Instead, he fully recovered. So wear a helmet – it may not look the coolest, but neither does a coffin.

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4 Responses to “Helmets – Why I wear one and you should, too.”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Hey Shell—excellent post! (I wonder if the missing helmet is a dirt bike helmet?) Could not agree more with you. I thought about one year foregoing actual presents for my friends and family and just buying everyone a helmet that needs one for a bike, roller blading, etc. I hope eventually people stop thinking about it in terms of coolness.

  2. Dit Panfile says:

    Hi Michelle; I used to wear one in my motorcycle days. After reading your article Barb and I will wear them when on our bikes.

  3. Dit I’m so glad you’ll wear bike helmets! That makes the blog post so worth it- thanks for replying!

  4. Carl drechsel says:

    Your article comes right to the point on Safety. I work on a construction site and hard hats are required and we still have people who forget the rules. Helmuts are an absolute must for your family members depending upon your sport. Great article!!
    Thanx, Carl

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