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The Crash Reel

Sunday, November 17, 2013

For those of us in the UK, Sky Atlantic are showing a series of documentaries - probably HBO documentaries because mostly HBO shows are shown on Sky Atlantic. Anyway, the series launched with The Crash Reel, which is about Kevin Pearce, a former pro-snowboarder, who suffered a horrendous accident just before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The documentary chronicles Kevin's early life, the build up to the crash - including Kevin's rivalry with Shaun White- and then his rehabilitation and struggle to accept that he probably would not become an Olympian. 

I certainly was not prepared for how heartbreaking the documentary would be. Lucy Walker does an excellent job of showing how lovely the Pearce family were, how close the brothers were, and how much fun they had snowboarding and just being boys. As a result, by the time the crash is shown in all its horrific goriness, it's just completely gut wrenching. Then it seems like Kevin is making really good progress and you start thinking perhaps it is one of those miraculous sporting tales. However, once again you're hit in the gut as you realise, along with Kevin, that he's not going to be able to board like before. That he's not even really the same Kevin as before. It's difficult to watch because he seems like such a good person and his family seem like good people too.  I think his brother David - who has his own battle of acceptance to deal with - especially steals the show. What a remarkable young man. In fact, they all are. Overall, the documentary showed what a difference having a strong, supportive, positive family has on rehabilitation and moving on after a life altering accident. 

Most importantly, this documentary brings to light the important issue of head injuries in sport - particularly extreme sports. I had no idea extreme sports professionals were not covered by insurance. If J Lo can get her bum insured or Gillette can foot the cost of insuring Rihanna's legs, why can't these guys get cover? Sarah Burke's fatal crash was featured in this documentary and was a sobering moment. After her death, her family were still left with her medical bills and many fans and well-wishers donated to cover the cost. This was completely baffling to me (not least of all because I live in a country with a wonderful National Health Service but that debate is for another day). What about her sponsors? How can Gillette fork out to insure Rihanna's legs but certain companies can't protect the wellbeing of those shiling their products? Well, answers are given here but it still doesn't make much sense to me. Then again, I am not a business person, so what do I know?

The Crash Reel is a brilliantly moving documentary (kudos to Matt Biffa for great music choices). Hopefully this documentary can help raise greater awareness of head injuries and also serve as inspiration for those going through similar experiences. I was definitely inspired and I will be sure to wear a helmet next time I ski because trying to look cool is for fools where your health is concerned - love your brain

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