Having returned from a recent skiing holiday I was struck that for the first time since I started skiing I was now the minority on the slopes skiing without a helmet. For the past few years skiing with a helmet has increased steadily to a point where anyone who doesn’t looks somehow out of place, but I remember a time when the opposite was true. This got me thinking as to why we are all compelled to wear such safety equipment and how effective it actually is.
I have been skiing all my life and consider my abilities above average but I have never, until now, considered the need to wear one. But peer pressure aside, what are the benefits for wearing one, especially when the rest of my body isn’t protected as I travel at 50 mph + down an icy slope on a pair of wooden planks? Obviously if I am involved in an accident and my head gets hit then I am going to be thankful for wearing it, but while a number of recent tragedies have made the headlines, surly a head injury is just one of many potential hazards while skiing?
My girlfriend was wearing a helmet for most of the week but when she removed it and skied without it she was amazed at how much more aware of the slopes she was in terms of people around her and noise. Obviously we were concerned about tempting fate, but it is an interesting point that in a world of health & safety and the need to protect ourselves are we going one step too far and trying to make something inherently dangerous look safe? Could I argue that by wearing it you are in fact less aware of the potential risks and therefore take more?
It is amazing how much busier ski slopes have become as its popularity has grown and with modern piste bashing and advances in equipment we are travelling faster than ever. So maybe I have answered my own question in that this is the motivation to wearing a helmet, but in fact reducing ones awareness of those around you is not what should be happening on a busy slope. I am sure the day will come when I am compelled to buy a helmet (well just to fit in) in the same way I did for my bike but in the world of safety at what point do we accept it is just a risk we have to take?
Bit of a silly example but more than a couple of times last year pedestrians have been knocked down in London by buses. So surely as a pedestrian I should be walking around with a helmet as the likelihood of being knocked by a 40 mph bus is a real and present danger? You never know in a few years it might catch on…