If you're going to hurl yourself head-first down a track of ice at 80 mph, you'd better be wearing a helmet! But the artistry and intimidation that goes into the helmet's design? It's a whole "thing."During the Olympic games, we non-athletes often find ourselves glued to our screens, genuinely fascinated by the lesser-known sports and by the thought that there are actually people who have dedicated their lives to the mastery of, say, curling. Or skeleton. And when a skeleton athlete hops onto a sled head-first and embarks on the ride of his or her life, the helmet they wear can -- well -- at first glance, make you jump a little in your seat. Some of the helmets are jarring; others are mind-bending. A lot of them are frightening. But most of them are just downright snazzy! [caption id="attachment_33567" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Courtesy of shockmansion.com[/caption] It's no surprise that skeleton athletes put a lot of thought into their helmet design. "It creates such a character to the athlete, and I think it helps the general public identify with people," Chris Le Bihan, a director for Canada's Olympic bobsled and skeleton teams, told CTV News. "You don't see a lot of their faces, you don't see a lot of who this person actually is. ... When they have these cool, unique designs on their helmets, you immediately identify who's going down the track." [caption id="attachment_33562" align="aligncenter" width="955"] Ghana's Akwasi Frimpong, Courtesy of NBC Olympics[/caption]
From Ghana's Akwasi Frimpong (whose helmet depicts a rabbit escaping the jaws of a lion), to Canada's Mirela Rahneva (whose design honors the memory of her mom, who died of cancer last June), the helmets are meaningful to the athletes. “My former sprint coach Sammy Monsels talks about the analogy of a rabbit in a cage, ready to escape from a lion,” Frimpong told NBC. “I am that rabbit, and I have escaped the lions [of my past]. I am no longer being eaten by all the things around my life.” [caption id="attachment_33560" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Canada's Mirela Rahneva; Image credit: Jeff McIntosh, The Canadian Press[/caption] American Matt Antoine, who won the bronze medal in the 2014 Olympic Games, has, in the past, opted for a sleek look -- a solid white helmet. His teammate Katie Uhlaender, however, usually likes to sport an American theme -- an eagle with some red, white, and blue. [caption id="attachment_33559" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] USA's Matthew Antoine; Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports[/caption] [caption id="attachment_33558" align="aligncenter" width="600"] USA's Katie Uhlaender, Courtesy of ESPN.com[/caption] And then there are the ones that are intimidatingly spooky: [caption id="attachment_33566" align="aligncenter" width="564"] Courtesy of redesignrevolution.com[/caption] Need we say more? Skeleton helmets certainly add to the intrigue of the game! And while the helmets are required gear for skeleton athletes and can be painted however they wish, they cannot have any aerodynamic elements attached that might help increase their speed down the track. So what's the craziest skeleton helmet you've seen? Upload a picture so we can see! If you were an athlete, what design would you want on your helmet? Tell us in the comments below!