I think I remember my first picture, serious picture, without a helmet while doing a slide—it was a black & white Caliber photo my homie Dustin Damron shot and I was wearing an A’s hat. I had seen people complain about the lack of helmets in downhill before, so I was expecting some backlash, but I was completely blown away at the hate that followed and hasn’t really stopped since.
It’s pretty funny to me how controversial the whole “no helmet” thing has become in downhill skating, whereas in street skating it is the complete opposite. The only people complaining about helmets, at let’s say a skate park, are the cops or scooter moms hollering at their kids from the car to keep it on. Other than that people roll around, get shreddy, and nobody is crying about the lack of head protection. Or what about gaps and handrails for example? Go check out Thrasher’s “Hall of Meat” video clips on YouTube. These dudes are going huge, eating it, and none of them are wearing helmets. So what makes downhill so different and helmet-mandatory? I think the way vert or mega ramp dudes do it best relates to how I feel. They self-police, throwing on a lid when shits about to get gnarly, but skate without one when they’re just chilling.
The only point I’ve heard that makes some sense from the pro-helmet people is “I don’t give a fuck about Liam’s safety, but what about the groms that he may be influencing to do the same?” or something along those lines. They have a point, but I think my best skating is shown in video form. In a video is when I charge the hardest, get sketchy, and sometimes eat shit. You’ll always see me wearing a lid when I’m pushing my limits. On the other hand, a photo to me is about capturing the style of skating, a time of day, a location, or a view. I’m rarely pushing my limits in a photo and that’s why I choose not to wear one all of the time.
When it comes down to it, do I think helmets are a good idea? Yes. Do I think kids should wear them? Absolutely. Do they make a photo look bad? Sometimes. Am I aware I could fall taking a photo and die? Of course. Do we all risk injury or death every minute we’re alive? Oh yeah. The reality is that when anyone hits the ground at high speed without a helmet on the chance of severe injury or death is pretty big. So always ride within your limits, and don’t do me, do you.
GENERAL DISCLIAMER: The statements, comments, and opinions expressed by Liam Morgan through Notes of a Greasy Young Man are those of “Mr. Greasy” himself, who is solely responsible for them, and they do not necessarily represent the views of Wheelbase LLC. Questions or comments regarding any information listed in this particular column can be addressed by contacting aliens, or channeling the spirit of Isaac Hayes.