Stepping up to the plate

15 Dec, 2009

Many people have wondered why I haven’t owned or wore a helmet and the reason has been I’ve been a firm believer in personal responsibility and judgement.  I don’t ride outside of my skill level and I am aware of my surroundings on the mountain which has worked for me in my time riding and knock on wood never had a bad incident that involved my head.  Accidents happen and helmets can save lives but I also believe that personal responsibility and judgement goes father in preventing them.

My venture into the park this year is what changed my thoughts on wearing a helmet.  I haven’t taken a bad fall, you know where your board slips out and your head comes down on the rail or hardpacked snow but I’ve seen it happen to my friends who are wearing helmets.  Each time I saw them experience that, I thought that as much as I wanna learn park again that I should be protecting my head within the park because it’s one place on the mountain I can’t control how I’ll land or fall.

So yesterday I made the switch and my helmet arrived in the mail.  I’ll be trying a Sandbox Brain Bucket to give myself some more protection in the park and I’m looking at trying a Bern helmet on the mountain, two companies I fully support and want to try out.  I still won’t be the rider that thinks their invincible on the mountain and perform skills beyond my level but it’ll be a good step in the progression session I’ve been working on and just a extra protection for my time in the park.

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!


  1. Griff
    December 15, 2009


    Good call. I started wearing mine a couple years ago after one of those “freak accident” falls during a Summit Central night session. I wasn’t doing anything tricky, but it was icy, and I caught an edge. I hit my head so hard it took me a second to remember where I was. The next year, during an early season run at Baker, the same thing happened, and I hit the back of my head hard enough to break off the goggle clip. Luckily, the helmet absorbed the impact, but it scares me to think about what would happen if it didn’t. I’m an old guy (34), and for the most part, I don’t ride above my abilities. I just feel like the potential for accidents is high enough that it makes sense to take the extra precaution.

  2. December 15, 2009

    good to see dude… been running with a helmet for almost 7 years now and it has saved me more than a few times in the park

  3. December 15, 2009

    PURPLE!!!!!!!!! I’m jealous…. lol. I’ve been wearing a helmet… for like… ever! I kinda have to since I have a cochlear implant, but it definitely helps makes me feel more comfortable in the park. I won’t do it if I don’t have a helmet, and it still feels weird to freeride without one, even when I don’t plan on going in the park. I saw a 2011 Smith Catalog and they have a helmet called Park Helmet, I think, and it’s HOT PINK… so HOT! hahhahaha I think I’m gonna get that one next 😀 Good move on getting a helmet shannon, you’ll definitely start stepping it up now that you have some head protection!

  4. December 15, 2009

    oh by the way, personally, I think that the Bern helmets’ visors have too much of a curve to fit my Dragon goggles, so if you get one with a visor, check the fit first!!

  5. Lucy
    December 15, 2009

    Hey Shay,
    Good call. I fell on High Noon at the end of spring break, no big shakes, not going crazy, but ended up two CT scans later Diagnosed with a TBI. Ended my season and made me very very aware of the possibility of second impact syndrome…Arguably I know too much as the brain, injured or not injured is my field of work. You are so right about riding within ones limits, but I know if I had not had the helmet I would have been in a lot worse shape.

  6. JT
    December 15, 2009

    I completely agree with you on this Shay. Plus honestly they keep your head warm 🙂 well mine does. I’m rocking a Smith Holt right now, but looking into a new Capix or Bern. Love the color too!!

  7. laz167
    December 15, 2009

    I’ve yet to wear my helmet, which I have 3 of them. Last year mt girlfriend on her second run of the year smacked head head something awful, thank god she had a helmet on, still had ski patrol take her to get checked out. You know this weekend I’ll give my brain bucket a try out.

  8. December 15, 2009

    This is my first season with a helmet and as dorky as I felt at first, I most of the time forget I have it on. Plus it keeps my head way warmer than a beanie ever did, which I love because I am always cold! The only thing I still find anoying is the chin strap.

  9. Mike
    December 15, 2009

    Good call on the helmet Shay. Mine has kept my puddin in my head on more than one occasion. I’ve hit my head hard enough to see stars inside my helmet. Sure am glad it was there. Now no more excusses and start hitting those board slides!

  10. Susannah
    December 15, 2009

    Nice to see the helmet! My son had a TBI a couple of years ago. He’s all right now, but we’ve learned that brain injuries are not like breaking your arm. It doesn’t take much of a hit to the head, and the impact can be serious and long lasting. Interesting to read your post as I guess I’ve never thought of a helmet as a reason to ride above my skill level. But I’m also an “old lady” (42) and don’t typically ride above my abilities. I like to ride fast and in the trees (not always at the same time!) so a helmet just makes sense to me. Love the site, and love the helmet – thanks!

  11. Dan
    December 15, 2009

    Helmets are a great place to mount a camera and they help you rember where you parked!

  12. Ali
    December 15, 2009

    Good call shay. To me riding with a helmet was something you I had to do in the small hills I ride in because more often than not you have someone coming at you while your on your heal edge (happened to me twice this past weekend.) Its not always my riding I am worried about but the riding of the people around me. I think everyone should look at that the next time they are on there home hill and try and notice how many new riders and skiers on the hill (or tourists) don’t know the rules and dont check over there shoulders while merging or bolting across a run. That is why I started to wear a helmet That and the rising price of insurance for hills and instructors is also why that within a few seasons not only will helmets be mandatory in the park (which it is in most hills out east) but also everywhere else.

  13. Erlantz
    December 15, 2009

    Good decision, anyway thats a cool helmet.

  14. Johnny
    December 15, 2009

    Shay, i hate to be the devils advocate, but the helmet is only as protective as the one wearing it. if ur a smart rider, u know your limits, and you know how to fall if u pass those limits. if ths wasnt true, why would porfessionals be hitting one of the biggest park jumps ever ( ) without a helmet?

  15. Jamal
    December 15, 2009

    That a girl. I’ve been wearing a helmet the last 3 season and it’s one of best decisions I’ve ever made. First, my head stays incrediblely warm. The cold is a non issue. Second, the only reason not to wear one is because it looks dorky. Not a good enough reason as far as I’m concerned because it’s a lot more dorky to hit your head and be out for the day, season or life. Lastly for myself, I have two kids and it would be shelfish for me not to protect myself given the oppurtunity.

  16. DDR
    December 15, 2009

    good call, never know what’s round the corner. So many other sports have realized the benefits of them so the sooner we do the better – no argument about the benefits of wearing one on a bike or horse, so why’s going 30+mph down a hill on a snowboard any different?

    Always amazed when watching snowboard films that nobody wears helmets, even when you would imagine it would be in the commercial interest of the sponsors – aren’t Burton and Red linked? so why don’t Burton get their riders to wear Red safety gear? They could stand the moral high-ground while cashing it… The more kids see pro-riders (and their peers) in helmets the sooner they’ll happily wear them too without complaining they’re un-cool.

  17. Brek Leines
    December 15, 2009

    I always rock the helmet doesnt matter what im doing. and itll save ur ass! Protection is great when your learning stuff or just pushing yourself. riding safe all the time isnt that fun and some things happen that cant really be prevented (like being run over). Shay im excited for when you come to washington I want to shred! if you can at all try to make it up to crystal, lots a goodies there and no park rats and we can do some sweeeeet back country!=]

  18. Alex
    December 15, 2009

    My all time favorite helmet is the Red HiFi. It’s so light you barely know its there and it’s pretty comfy. I know my helmet has saved me from probably around 4-5 concussions or even worse things from happening.

  19. December 15, 2009

    Wow some great comments on the helmet and I’m definitely stoked to be rocking it. Today was the first day of many to come. It was nice having a warm helmet and I just picked up the Bern TJ Schneider helmet with audio to try that out as well on the mountain. It’ll be fun to switch them up depending on what I want.

    Johnny, even pro athletes don’t wear helmets all the time. They hit stuff way bigger than I ever would but we’ve seen them jump buildings and not be wearing a helmet. It’s definitely an interesting discussion on why pros aren’t as well.

    Brek, I probably won’t make it to Crystal since this trip is 3 days long and Holy Oly is one of the days plus family time. Stevens might be do-able if you are able to come up for the day and shred. I do miss Crystal though, love that mountain but harder to get to for me than going to Stevens where my family has a cabin.

  20. Mac
    December 15, 2009

    I dont love wearing helmets personly but after a really bad crash of a booter i ended up getting a minor concussion which really sucked… ever since i weir a helmet when i hit park and when im pushing myself… i still dont love helmets but they do end up paying for themselves by saving you from having to spend a ton of cash on hospital bills when you do end up eating it.

    On and one last thing… Bern Helmets are for sure some of the best helmets out there and really are one of the few helmets i chose to rock when i go shred.


  21. Mac
    December 15, 2009

    Oh and i want to add one more thing.. i saw that someone said that dragon goggles dont fit to well with a bern visor helmet. i have the same model of bern helmet that you have (the one with the brim) and this is slightly true but over all it dose not effect anything and also i prefer to weir my goggles underneath my hemet … it just looks cool and is more comfortable in my opinion.


  22. Lisa
    December 15, 2009

    Good call on the helmet! I have had far too many brain injuries and I have to wear a helmet on the slopes. It is good to protect yourself from crashes and all the other people around you!

  23. lee
    December 15, 2009

    Helmets are not a bad thing. Saved me in the pipe and park quite a few times! I’ve been wearing them forever it seems. I can’t remember not having one.
    Bern Baker is what I have and I couldn’t be happier. The fit and look is great. My head stays warm and my goggles fit perfectly. (Smith fuse)
    Helmets don’t protect everything though(my wrist is proof of that) so don’t get to carried away. They can make you feel invincible. But what am I up on my soapbox for? You are a smart girl. Proved that by getting a lid in the first place.

  24. Dora
    December 16, 2009

    Good thing you’ve got a helmet. I hit my head on the secdond day on the mountain and it was the second day I was wearing helmet. I’ve never ever had this kind of fall before, but I’m glad that I’ve decided to buy one before going to the mountains last year, Cause all in all I had some 3 hits during the week. I guess I’m lucky.

  25. Andrew
    December 16, 2009

    Some of my favorite riders where helmets like Jed Anderson, Alex Andrews, TJ Schneider, and Pat Milberry.

  26. Raze
    December 16, 2009

    Just FYI, there’s a difference between an ANSI standard certified ‘helmet’ and a ‘hard hat.’ A lot of what Bern puts out looks great, but they’re only classified as ‘hard hats’ and don’t meet standards for multiple hard impacts. Basically, ‘use once and destroy’ – the first time you fall and give the hard hat a good smack, get a new one, since it may not protect you adequately a second time.

  27. Pam
    December 16, 2009

    I started wearing a helmet full time last year finally. I had a really nice concussion back in high school and stopped park because of it. I had bought a RED Helmet, but it just didn’t fit me right and it rolled around in my trunk for a year. The few times I did wear it I was lucky…that’s when I ate it.

    Last year I bought one and I don’t even know it’s on half the time. Yea, I wish I could just wear a beanie cause it looks better, but I know I wouldn’t progress as much if I wasn’t wearing it.

    I am donating that helmet that I never wore to They take away the money barrier and help get kids on the hill and snowboarding. Get them started with a helmet early.

  28. Brek Leines
    December 16, 2009

    My girlfriends family has a place up in that area so i might be able to pull it off. But yay helmets!

  29. Vivi
    December 16, 2009

    I go all out, helmet, crashpad, knee pads, wrist guards and am very very careful when riding especially before stopping, crossing or dropping in the park. Maybe the next thing to add will be elbow pads if there’s going to be a lot of sliding on the metal…

  30. Matty A
    December 17, 2009

    personally, i wonder why people dont wear them. i mean now they look decent, are light and comfy to wear and stop your brains coming out your ears. its all good riding in your limits but i have been hit by others from behind enough to know that it isnt always up to you. in my opinion, every day you are riding and arent injured, you can be progressing. if padding up and wearing a lid helps me ride more with less injury, then im all for it.

  31. Brett
    January 01, 2010

    always, always,,, ALWAYS wear a helmet.