I could go on about how pointless and unnecessary this death was, how ridiculous it is that people do not give their brains a fraction of the care that they give their notebook computers. This tragedy might have been avoided had Ms. Richardson been wearing a helmet; they are often recommended for beginners. The London Times notes that "it is known that beginners are the most vulnerable."
TreeHugger has posted a number of times about helmet use in sports, some are not comfortable to read or look at, and the issue of helmet use is always controversial, but we reprise them below.
A Brain Surgeon on Bicycle Helmets
Dr. Charles Tator is a brain surgeon and founder of Thinkfirst, an organization with the mission to "prevent brain and spinal cord injury through education aimed at healthy behaviours in children and youth."
Whenever we do a post about bike helmets, we get a controversy in comments that often includes statements like "Nowhere that has introduced a helmet law or considerable helmet promotion has been able to demonstrate any reduction in risk to cyclists."
Well, now they have. A new study released in the Journal of Pediatrics looked at the death rate in Ontario, Canada for kids on bikes before and after the mandatory helmet law was passed in 1995 and found that it cut the death rate in half. The Bicycle Helmet Debate is Over. Really.
We often have heated discussions about the benefits of wearing bike helmets (most recent here) but Ryan Lipscomb of Madison, Wisconsin is alive to tell of a truck running right over his head. "I didn't see it coming, but I sure felt it roll over my head. It feels really strange to have a truck run over your head."
The issue of wearing a helmet for snowboarding or skiing is controversial on and off the slopes. In Italy, helmets are required for children under 14, and other countries are considering legislation.
The Globe and Mail describes the conditions at the time:
The Nansen run, where Ms. Richardson fell and reportedly hit her head on the ground, was filled with families on March break who were drawn, like the British-born actress, to the gentle grade of the hill.
Many were perplexed at how such a critical injury could have occurred on the green-level slope, considered only a step up from the bunny hill.
But others said the conditions on Monday were far from ideal, and could have confounded a novice.
Dave Doucette, a Halifax resident, was skiing on Nansen on Monday afternoon, but quit early because of the conditions.
"By afternoon, it wasn't worth skiing because it was slushy and sticky. It was challenging standing on your feet," said the father of two who was on a family holiday.
"I was able to stay up but I saw a lot of people falling down."
Anna Peacock of Ottawa also said the run might have challenged a novice. Ms. Richardson had been taking a lesson with an experienced teacher when she fell.
"If you had never skied before, you wouldn't want to be there on your first time skiing. It was crowded and a bit icy in patches, and then thick in patches. For a beginner it would be harder," Ms. Peacock said.
Heather Adams of Sheffield, England, said the conditions Monday were "a bit like glue." Ms. Adams's mother fell on the snow and cut her lip after her skis got stuck.
Unlike Ms. Richardson, Ms. Adams and the rest of her family wore helmets.
"I fell this morning — I slipped and hit my head backwards. I got a bit of whiplash, but at least I'm still here," she said.
"Helmet, helmet, helmet. Everybody should wear a helmet, beginners particularly."
UPDATE: many of the comments below relate to an image that readers considered inappropriate under the circumstances. I have removed it and apologise to those I have offended.