Skulls and Bones: The helmets of Canadian skeleton athletes

Skulls and Bones: The helmets of Canadian skeleton athletes

By Callum Ng

The helmet is for many sports a method of self-expression. A hockey goalie has all the space around the cage, and in Olympic BMX the cyclists have freedom to design their protective shells.

Beyond the colours, the physical helmet itself is a statement. For skeleton athletes the helmet shows fearlessness. Even wearing a blank one proves something.

Today Canada called on four more athletes to don the helmet, and race for us at the Olympics. Following back-to-back men’s gold in 2006 and 2010, it will be Kelowna’s Eric Neilson and Calgary’s John Fairbairn who will aim to defend in Sochi.

SEE ALSO: Veteran Mellisa Hollingsworth leads a fearless skeleton team to Sochi

Twenty six-year-old Sarah Reid of Calgary and Eckville, Alberta’s Mellisa Hollingsworth will both try to improve on the latter’s bronze from Turin 2006. Every helmet has a story, on the surface or underneath. Here are theirs:

Sarah Reid

Sarah Reid

I had been wanting to get my helmet painted for quite a while, and originally wanted an image that I found off the internet of a girl’s face that was half normal, half skull. Jason Bartziokas in Jasper suggested doing an image that was more symmetrical as the main image on the top of the helmet, because he said that would register a lot better from far away. I told him that what I liked about the other image was the fact that it was kind of feminine, but still kind of scary and deadly looking. He recommended I look up ‘day of the dead’ images on the internet, and when I found one I liked I sent it along to him. -Sarah Reid

Eric Neilson

Eric Neilson

The story behind mine was pretty much that I wanted a very “bad ass” helmet.  I know you can’t put that in a write up, but that’s what I wanted.  It’s pretty much a “Demon Head” helmet that is on fire and is breathing fire out of the mouth that are skulls.  I’m not artistic at all so all I had was an idea that I wanted a scary skull design, and Jason pretty much ran with it.  He gets all the credit for it.  He went above and beyond what my expectations were.  I do think he made a helmet that embodies me perfectly though.  I am a very easy going guy, but when it’s time to train at the gym, or the helmet comes on for sliding, there is a different side of me that’s not as fun-loving.  To me it’s all business. – Eric Neilson

Mellisa Hollingsworth

Mellisa’s helmet was done by Voodoo Airbrushing in Ontario. The idea combines skeleton and horses, explaining the horse skull. Then there are the six rodeo events on her chin guard. All stencils are lifted from actual photographs of her friends family and even Mel barrel racing. Finally, there are “ghost” maple leaves in the background.

Mellisa Hollingsworth

John Fairbairn

My story is that my last name is a little tricky to pronounce properly, and lots of people get it wrong. When we were racing in Königssee, Germany a few years ago, the track announcer called me “John Fair-brain”. My teammate, and now coach Keith Loach, picked up on that and started calling me Fairbrain, which eventually got shortened to Brain. I’ve always been the smart/nerdy guy on the team and so that totally fit with who I am. I had mine painted by Gerald McLaughlin with Voodoo Airbrushing in Pickering, Ontario. – John Fairbairn

MEET THE SOCHI 2014 CANADIAN OLYMPIC SKELETON TEAM

By Callum Ng

Senior Writer/Producer for Olympic.ca: I tell sport stories. I also like songs and dim sum. Liable to be found rink side, track side, pool side, any side.

Olympic Club

Feature Poll

TO2015 Daily RecapSee All

Day 16 Recap: Canada ends Toronto 2015 with 217 medals

Upcoming GamesSee All

2016 Rio

2016 Rio

History will be made in 2016 when Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hosts the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, marking the first time that a South American country will welcome the world to an Olympic Games. It is also just the third time that the Games will be held in the southern hemisphere, following Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000.

Top Team Canada Fans

Al Redpath

Current Level

Legend

  • Total: 32185 points
  • Earned this week: 3491 points

Kerri McGregor

Current Level

Legend

  • Total: 22740 points
  • Earned this week: 1640 points

Benn Wood

Current Level

Legend

  • Total: 19260 points
  • Earned this week: 3082 points

Mary Manna

Current Level

Legend

  • Total: 11664 points
  • Earned this week: 1503 points

Clay Naslund

Current Level

Legend

  • Total: 9740 points
  • Earned this week: 1585 points

Ivy Tennis

Current Level

Legend

  • Total: 8366 points
  • Earned this week: 1390 points

Beckie Santavy

Current Level

Legend

  • Total: 7568 points

Matthew Tully

Current Level

Legend

  • Total: 7375 points

Website by zync.ca | Programmed by Trew Knowledge | Powered by WordPress.com VIP

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,107 other followers