There were so many rules in the ’80s code of cool that it was hard to keep up at times. For instance, when I was in high school, the simple act of wearing a backpack on both shoulders made you look like a total geek. It didn’t matter that putting all the weight of your textbooks on one shoulder—instead of distributing the burden evenly—pretty much guaranteed a future filled with chiropractor appointments.
And wearing a helmet on the slopes back then? That basically put you in the AV-club stratosphere of geekdom. Of course, in the last six or seven years, the dweeb stigma of wearing a helmet has been lifted. In fact, as local snow-scene luminary Mike Jackson explains, the opposite is true now: it’s the people without helmets who have the big invisible L on their foreheads.
“It’s like, ”˜Dude, don’t be an idiot, ’cause, like, what if you fall and you’re done for the season, or dead or brain-damaged?’ ” says Jackson, who sat down with the Straight at Thriller (3467 Main Street), his full-service snowboard and skateboard shop.
Jackson estimates that about 75 percent of people in the local winter-sports scene wear helmets, but he predicts that this will increase to 80 or 90 percent in the very near future as more and more local mountains and terrain parks make it mandatory to protect your grey matter with CSA-approved headgear.
He credits some of this change in attitude to a generation of old-school riders who made names for themselves in the late ’90s. “There’s lots of local crews and posses like Wildcats”¦which were very iconic to the local youth at Mount Seymour. And I think all those guys started wearing helmets as well, so that helped.”
While companies like Pro-Tec may have paved the way with lower price points and solid wearable models several years ago, it’s brands like Bern that are leading the way when it comes to style.
One of the top sellers at Thriller for women is the Bern Muse ($120), a sleek multi-impact hard hat with a built-in visor. A Swiss import, the Muse has a sophisticated equestrian vibe and comes in a variety of classic two-toned combos, as well as eye-popping solids including Day-Glo pink.
“This year, it’s back to hot brights,” Jackson says. “With the bright colours, snowboarding has taken a pretty big push forward.”
For the less adventurous, there are still plenty of traditional options. Jackson’s personal favourite is the Boeri Rage ($139), a highly breathable helmet with a removable neck-warming piece. There’s an undeniable scooter chicness to this Italian-made bad boy, which comes in several classic shades including a subtle, solid silver.
On the local front, Sandbox has filled a noggin-protecting niche with its Classic Brain Bucket model ($89.99), a super-clean design that looks a little like a batting helmet. You can get this one in black, white, a vibrant purple, or a sweet electric blue; the latter two are true standouts in terms of style.
As Jackson says, “You gotta wear a helmet—you might as well make it look cool.”