With the season starting up, I would like to take some time to talk to you about personal safety. What does this mean exactly? For me it is park armor.
Now I know there have been several really large discussions/threads on Newschoolers about the importance of helmets while skiing. I don't want to get into the helmet debate here. Helmets save lives, science and studies agree. If you don't want to wear a helmet that's fine, I think your crazy but its your decision. If you don't wear a helmet let me save you some time, you can stop reading right here this article will do nothing for you.
Helmets are a form of armor though and for any skier regardless of if they are in the terrain park or not, should be wearing them. What I think more people should be doing if they want to spend any real amount of time in the park, is wear armor. As in, pretty much full body armor. My armor setup,if you see me in the park, you can be sure I am wearing consists of:
Upper body armor with hard plates on the elbows, shoulders and spine
Lower body armor with soft pads around the hips, on the tailbone and thighs
Occasionally wrist guards
Occasionally a mouth guard
Now all of this stuff really does not effect how you look or ride if you order gear knowing you will have it on as a base layer. (Not that how you look is more important than getting hurt but this is NS, who are we kidding?) Additionally it does not cause me to lose any range of movement as it is fit properly. Here is what I look like with, my armor on -
And here is what it looks like when I am wearing my outerwear. You cannot even tell I have it on.
I have heard people argue against it in two ways primarily. I have heard the, "If your just a beginner, why do you need it? You are not going big enough for it to matter" and the converse of that "I have been in the park forever I almost never fall, I don't need it" arguments. Usually these arguments are coming from people under say 21 or so, who have either yet to grasp just how fragile the human body is, or have yet to fall and actually hurt themselves more than some minor bruises.
If you are a beginner, you should be wearing armor for that exact reason, you don't know what the hell you are doing. Your chances of falling on even a basic rail are pretty good. If your feet slide out from under you and you hip check that rail, will you break something? Probably not. Will you have a huge ass bruise that lasts 3-4 months? Most likely, check this bruise I got last season when I caught an edge on a box without wearing pads. This was about 5 hours after it happened, it only got worse. Much, much worse.
That bruise lasted months and months, and is still slightly tender over a year later. If I had had hip pads on at the time, it most likely would have been half that size at worst. Having elbow, wrist and shoulder plates on will take all those annoying minor injuries people get learning how to hit basic features and make them pretty much a non issue. Instead of being sore for a week and possibly unable to ski, you pop right back up like you never even hit the ground.
If you are an expert throwing huge air and major rails, you need the armor more than the beginner even if you rarely fall. When you do fall, you are likely to be going much faster, or much higher. I have seen far too many people taken down the park in toboggans after going big. They decided to go big or go home, and instead went to the hospital. When you spend 5 days a week at the mountain, you really realize how dangerous park skiing is.
Now will the armor save you from everything? No, of course not. You can still twist a knee or an arm, roll a finger over or break your neck. It will however reduce your chances of injuries. What would have been a minor injury becomes a non-issue, and what would have been a major injury, might become a minor injury. Who knows, this armor that everyone likes to rag on me for, might save my life. Would you rather have the inconvenience of wearing a mouth guard, or break some teeth and get a concussion? The answer seems simple to me.
If you made it this far, and I have persuaded just a single one of you to invest in some armor, I will be more than happy. Spending 100-200 dollars worth of armor that could save you from breaking something seems worth it to me (hospital bills are expensive!). If you are interested in buying armor, I personally use Allsportprotection.com. They have sales pretty often, and their customer service will go above and beyond to get you what you need. (No they are not paying me to write this.) The stuff also doubles as a super warm base layer, so there is that too.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading, the comments on this one should be interesting! Keep it civil guys!
Stay Safe Newschoolers.
Edit : Here are links to my review of my armor, for those who are interested.