Skiing and Living With Neither Fear Nor Helmets

03.20.09
30 years ago - Younger than my daugher is now

30 years ago - Younger than my daugher is now

Today there is finger wagging. Natasha Richardson should have gone to the hospital/worn a helmet/stayed at home/wrapped herself in bubble wrap. Today ski helmet sales are soaring, and well intentioned mothers are swaddling their tweens in bubble wrap, lest they tumble and fall. Helmet manufacturers are salivating, but they can’t market to you or it’d appear predatory at best, and ghoulish at worst.

It was a freak accident, she could have just as easily tripped on an evening gown and hit her head on a fire hydrant. My understanding is that Natasha Richardson had an unremarkable fall.

Really bad luck.

My kids wear a helmet when they ski. I do not. I’ve skied since I could walk, and it’s one of a very few things that I know I do well. I ski like I write, I’m fearless and I manage to make a few small leaps and if I lead with my hips I can avoid most hazards.

The few (blissful) times I’ve hut skied, I was required to wear a helmet. I wore a helmet when the ski patrol took me out of bounds on one of our recent trips (dude, I’ve got your back, I’ll never tell who you are). If they’d insisted I wear a tutu, I would have complied. I hated the helmet.

I love the sound of my skis carving into the snow. I love the wind blowing in my hair. I love being a teensy bit cold. I love not being able to see my feet in the powder and the ache in my thighs matching the burn in my lungs. I ski long runs, mostly black diamond, mostly flat and I seldom jump anymore. The reality is that skiing has a very low injury rate, less than one half of one percent.l1070586I no longer own skis and I traded in the 185’s to rent 160’s.

I want to tell you that in the wake of this terrible tragedy I’ll wear a helmet. I can’t do that. It’s not because wearing a helmet isn’t the smart thing to do. It’s not because I didn’t think about wearing a helmet after Sonny Bono died (even though he killed spring break in Palm Springs). I contemplated it even longer after William Kennedy died.

I still skiied without one all those years.

One thing I’ve vowed to be in this space is honest. I may not be literate, balanced, kind, sensible or fair, but I will be honest.

In all honesty, I won’t be wearing a helmet any time soon. There are a lot of things I do that are much more dangerous than skiing. There’s more than a little marketing on the evening news.

Related posts:
Skiing in 2007
Skiing in 2009