"Never Go Full Retart"

Never go full retard


 Debate by Ed Leigh and Scott Penman

Snowboarding-related debates are widespread these days, especially after the rise of the ‘keyboard warriors’ clogging up comments sections. We thought it’d be more dignified to thrash them out with two informed – but opposing – voices on this feature. First up is the daddy of them all: All Snowboarders Should Wear Helmets.

I only rode once this winter without a helmet; first I felt selfish, then foolish.


Ed Leigh is a former pro rider and WL editor. He’s now best known as a Ski Sunday presenter and Olympic commentator.

I believe in civil liberties and freedom of choice, but also taking responsibility for your actions. Most people learn, usually through physical pain, to deal with their bad decisions. If you identify with that then you should be wearing a helmet to protect yourself. If not, you should still wear one to protect yourself from those people. I don’t want to be a ‘helmet Nazi’, I just want to be the voice of reason: your chances of getting a proper brain smash are much higher if you don’t wear one.

In 2001 I watched a guy crack his skull and cheekbone in a slam. He lost the pressure on his eye socket and the area swelled so rapidly that his eye fell out of his head. He then partially regained consciousness and tried to run off into the crowd, screaming and moaning. I had to restrain him until the medics arrived. That’s just one of my head-injury highlights from a library of hundreds, and they are images I draw on increasingly when I’m deciding whether or not to don a lid.

Working on Ski Sunday forced me to wear a helmet. I never used to and wouldn’t have by choice, but setting an example for viewers – and in time, my kids – changed that. I only rode once this winter without a helmet; first I felt selfish, then foolish.

The truth is that the only thing stopping people wearing helmets is pride and vanity. Why wouldn’t any intelligent person wear one? It doesn’t matter how good you are, there is always someone else out there who hasn’t got a clue that will take you out (I concede that if you are riding heli-accessed spines in Alaska this is not the case, but really you should be wearing one there regardless). The stigma of riding with a helmet is gone; everyone rides with them these days, and it is universally accepted that they give you a better chance of saving your brain. Why risk it?