Moment Skis Founder/CEO Casey Hakansson was dealt a life-changing blow while out testing product at Boreal Mountain on December 6th, 2011. While ripping turns on a groomer for only his 3rd run of the season Casey’s skis abruptly stopped, violently catapulting him to the ground. Casey knew instantly that he had broken his neck, no doubt fearing the worst. Thankfully after “two ambulance rides, two hospital visits, and two cat scans” Casey and his family were relieved to learn the “final verdict: non displaced fractures of (his) C2 and C3 vertebra.” Bottom line: no spinal injury – he was very lucky.
Yesterday Casey released an update, recounting the accident and providing some earnest reflections. From heeding posted warnings to thoughts on the current Heath Care system, Casey was inspired to share his story. He also shares one of the greatest lessons he learned from the accident:
“Wear your helmet. Cannot stress this enough! I was wearing a helmet during the accident and I truly believe it played a huge role in me walking out of the Hospital the same day. It was amazing the sound of relief from every patroller, nurse, and doctor when they heard I had a helmet. In each hospital I heard the frustrations from the nurses of current and past ski injury patients that were not wearing helmets and the damages it could have prevented. It was eye opening the passion that these medical professionals valued the protection of the helmet. There is no excuse not (to) wear one.“
Freakish accidents like this happen all too often. I’ll never forget how a few years ago, riding up the Gondola at Mammoth Mountain I witnessed a skier take a hard fall. He was skillfully slicing and dicing the spring/summer bumps when all of a sudden he pitched forward, slamming himself unconscious. Patrol was there instantly (one of their shacks a mere 100 yrds away), so I didn’t really give it further thought. Then, about a week later, a friend of mine that works the local hospital informed me that the skier I had witnessed take a hard fall was now a quadriplegic. It hits you hard – the reality of how fragile we are.
To Casey’s point, you never know what’s around that next corner (or knoll). Granted, helmets can only do so much, yet doing what we all love to do, taking measures to improve our odds only makes sense. I’ll tell you, stories like this send shivers down my spine, but somehow, through it all, I’m as inspired as ever to ski as passionately as ever. I admit, usually I do not ski with a helmet… now I’m giving this one more than just second thoughts.
Casey, best wishes for a speedy, full recovery. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for bringing your passion for skiing and life to so many.
What are your thoughts on helmets? Do you wear one? Do you have a story where a helmet has come to your rescue? Please share.