Sunday, 13 August 2006

Compulsory ski helmets?

When I read this article in the SMH, the first thing that went through my head is that this will be the first time I have not had a ski in about 15 years.

I wear a helmet. I do that because I have had some wonderful stacks over the years - some absolute rippers. Crashing in the snow at speed doesn't do any damage most of the time, since snow by definition is soft. Just an inch or two of soft stuff on the surface is enough to cushion most falls. Ok, you still end up sore, and occasionally bruises will come through, but injury can often be avoided.

I bought the helmet after crashing on ice. That hurt. A lot. Once I started wearing it, I found that it was warmer than a beanie, so I am now a committed helmet wearer. I have also been cleaned up occasionally by out of control snow boarders (snow lice is my preferred expression), and the helmet helps when my heads clashes with theirs. It won't save me from a busted knee or a broken wrist, and it might not help if I do a Sonny Bono into a tree, but it helps nonetheless.

When I went skiing last year, us helmet wearers were still in a minority, but one that was clearly growing fast. Whilst I would have felt like a complete dick wearing a helmet five years ago, now I feel part of an enlarging club.

Skiing is a risky sport. You need to know what you are doing, and you need to keep your eyes and ears open and be on the lookout for rocks, trees, obstacles, ice and idiots 110% of the time. It is not a carefree sport - it involves the utmost attention if you want to get down the hill quickly and cleanly. I find it immensely relaxing because when I am skiing, I am thinking so hard, I do not have enough brain capacity left over to think about work. It completely erases all other worries.

I don't think it should be compulsory to wear a helmet. It's your head - make up your own mind. If you think that you are competent enough to avoid having a bad crash, good luck to you. I know that I am not that competent - I usually ski well beyond my ability, so a helmet comes in handy.

Besides, we need more organ donors. Actually, we need more dead organ donors. So let's keep with the voluntary thing.

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