Off your head at the snow

Kevin Pearce is a lucky guy, depending how you look at it. As a professional snowboarder in the US, he spent years travelling the world and visiting ski resorts many of us could only dream of. Then he hit his head. Hard.

Pearce's life changed while training in a half-pipe at Park City, Utah. A blow to his head saw him airlifted to hospital, in critical care for almost a month and then a rehabilitation centre for brain injuries for five months.

A year later Pearce was back on a snowboard, and in front of the camera for ESPN, but he would never compete again. He was wearing a helmet and it saved his life, and changed his career.

Safety first: Helmets should be a part of your snow kit.
Safety first: Helmets should be a part of your snow kit. Photo: Getty Images

Pearce, currently in Australia for a charity screening in Sydney, The Crash Reel, is a strong advocate of helmets for snow sports and he is not alone. Torah Bright battled three concussions in the lead up to her gold medal run at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

If concussion and head injury can happen to the professionals, then it can happen to any leisure skier or snowboarder. While most Australian resorts advocate helmets for children's ski school no resort has made them compulsory. Why? Because there is no law akin to bike helmets for ski helmets. "I do believe we are creating a generation of helmet-wearing skiers and boarders," Thredbo spokesperson Susie Diver says. "All of our ski school messages are about safety and the need for helmets, and as a result we have seen an increase in both children and parents choosing to leisure ski with a helmet outside of ski school."

In the US, many Colorado ski areas have enforced the wearing of helmets for their employees, and Sports Medicine Australia recommends helmets for all ski instructors in Australia.

Even British travel insurance company Essential Travel made helmets mandatory for skiers and boarders seeking insurance from their company. No helmet, no cover, literally.

Yet despite varying studies revealing the chance of head injury lessened by anything from 20 per cent to 60 per cent when wearing a helmet, many old-school skiers and snowboarders still choose not to don one.

The New York Times reported a 2009 survey of ski patrollers in the US that revealed 77 per cent did not wear helmets in that year. Why? A perceived loss of peripheral vision and the belief helmets promoted riskier behaviour.

But the truth is, if you are a risk-taker you will always be a risk-taker and if you are not then you are not. Helmet or no helmet.

I for one take risks in my daily life but not on the slopes. Though I do feel safer with a helmet on than not, I am still not going to huck a cliff or hang upside down in the air just because I am wearing one.

It took one minor fall on the beginner slopes without a helmet to end actress Natasha Richardson's life.

If a helmet can save Kevin Pearce's life, surely it's good enough to save yours.

Do you wear a helmet? If so, why? If not, why? Do you think helmets should be mandatory on ski fields? Post a comment on the blog below and join in the discussion.

SNOW FOR BRAINS

Bid on over $25,000 worth of ski and snowboard prizes on this online auction for Charlie Teo's Cure For Life Foundation for brain cancer research. Prizes include the chance to lunch and ski with Anna Segal in Thredbo, accommodation and lift passes at Deer Valley Resort in Utah, a week at The Greenleaf Hotel in Niseko with all mountain lift passes from Hanazono, Salomon Skis and Snowboard, DPS Skis, lift pass packages to Whistler Blackcomb, Aspen Snowmass and Steamboat and more.

The Cure For Life Foundation is also heading to Thredbo on July 27 to Ski4Life with a host of fun on slope antics and a Christmas in July Dinner at Segreto with Peter Lehmann Wines and special guests Prue MacSween from Celebrity Apprentice and Marcella Zemanek with performance from Craig Anthony. Tickets are $190 for the degustation event and available from Cure For Life.

Can't go? Buy $10 Raffle Tickets online to win $10 000 worth of skis, snowboards and gear from Elan, Nitro, Burton, Giro, Marker, Rossignol, STM Bags, Liberty Skis, POC, Hestra, Rip Curl, Snow Angel and a Thredbo Season Pass.

Disclaimer: Miss Snow It All proudly works with Cure For Life Foundation on special projects to help find a cure for the biggest cancer killer of Australians under 39.

INSTAGRAM2WIN Skullcandy and a VAIL RESORTS EPIC SEASON PASS

Tag your instagram #misssnowitall and share the snow love. We'll publish our favourites each week right here and our guest judge will choose a winner that will go into the final gallery at the end of the season when you get to choose the winner.

Each week's winner receives a Skullcandy Hesh 2.0 set of headphones (RRP$99.95) in a variety of colours and goes into the finalists gallery at the end of the season for readers to vote on who wins. 

The final winner scores Skullcandy Mix Master Headphones (RRP$379.95) and an Epic Pass season pass valid at 18 mountains in the USA and Europe including Vail in Colorado, Heavenly in Lake Tahoe and Canyons in Utah, home to Skullcandy HQ (RRP US$689).

Check out the gallery at the top of this page for this week's top five finalists. You can also view all instagram entries here. Entry terms and conditions.

 

THIS WEEK'S WINNER

This week's finalists are @britt_mogul_cox @snowaustralia @factionskisaus @torileighraye @ashleypinder

The winner of last week's top five instagrams is @jamesgarner_ for his black and white shot of Perisher footsteps. Congrats!

Follow Snow It All on twitter @misssnowitall, instagram @misssnowitall, facebook facebook.com/misssnowitall and visit the wordpress blog miss-snowitall.com for more. Email me: rachael.oakesash@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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