No Matter How Bad Your Hair Day, There’s Always Someone Like This …
Few things in nature are more intimidating than the greasy, tangled mane of a New Englander after he takes off his ski helmet. In an effort to promote ski safety, Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont, launched an annual competition three years ago to find and honor the most god-awful helmet hair on the slopes. “We want to see that cool, disheveled look of carefree hair,” explains Bonnie MacPherson, Okemo’s director of PR and one of the contest’s expert judges. “We want to see that free-flowing mane you earn by being safe and wearing a helmet.” (The 2011 event will take place during National Safety Awareness Week, January 14-22.) Although the competition’s goal is admirable, “free-flowing” might be a stretch. Most of last year’s contestants looked as though they’d just gotten into a fight with a glue stick. MacPherson concedes that it’s usually a lot of “matted, sweaty heads,” adding that they always get one or two bald guys, “because people like the irony.”
The judges were shocked, however, last year when they met Jimmy Catalano, an 11-year-old skier from Greenwich, Connecticut. “He took his helmet off and it was like spring action,” MacPherson recalls. “This kid’s hair was going in every direction imaginable. He won hands-down!” As you might imagine, Jimmy’s emotions at having won such an auspicious contest are mixed. “I think it’s pride,” he says, “but I think it’s funny, too.” He says he’d been confident of his chances, because even on a good day he sports a pretty righteous mop, which is simultaneously reminiscent of both a palm tree and the body of an emu. Asked to describe his award-winning ‘do, he replies coolly, “I think it describes itself.”
If you weren’t blessed with Jimmy’s natural curls, here are some tips for making the most of your helmet hair:
Think Big: Crimp it, perm it, or just tease it out. Get your hair to look as though it’s straight out of an ’80s Aspen ski movie before you put your helmet on, and you should look like an extra from Night of the Living Dead by the time you take it off.
A Little Dab’ll Do Ya: Don’t be afraid to use some product. Gel, wax, or old-fashioned hair spray will add mayhem to your ‘do. No matter how good it looks going in, after a few hours under a helmet your classically sculpted hair will come out looking like a piece of modernist art.
The Classic Look: Helmet ventilation has come a long way over the years, but if you’re going for bad helmet hair, you need that extra sweat. You could steam a clam under some of the older, heavier models–take one for a spin for a vintage look.
Ewwww Natural: When it comes to helmet hair, your natural oils may be the ultimate secret weapon. Don’t shower for a few days before your ski trip, and you’ll walk away with a sweaty, swollen mass that looks like something between a dreadlock and a rat’s nest.