“It is actually all my idea”, Aaron Tran of Team USA started presenting his helmet – representing himself. The ISU made a decision last year that allows athletes to show their helmets during the competition, they do not need to cover them anymore. Members of Team USA realized this was an opportunity to paint personalized helmets themselves. Or with the help of friends, maybe professional design artists. Keith Caroll already had his own already before the ISU rule, just for trainings. Now also a few of his teammates are following his example, expressing their own personalities through their helmets, the only part of their professional clothing they can shape for themselves.
Aaron Tran’s choice was an evening sky design with shooting stars as background, and red, mostly non-figurative symmetric patterns on the top. “I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted something that’s originated. Something that symbolizes your drive”, the 21-year-old explained. Shooting for the stars is something very meaningful for him. “I wanted to express to urge your dreams. That’s why I have chosen to put the stars on the back. I also liked the tribal motive designs, so what I did was I looked up on Google some tribal images and saved them on my phone and notebook”, he told about the start of the designing process.
It took about two months for the big hope of US short track to create the final version. “Eventually I came to this kind of design where it’s faded from blue until it’s black like the night sky. You should’ve seen my first drawing: it was really bad”, he laughed. “There are also dragons in the front like ying-yang representing balance in your life. Even if you’re going towards your goal you want a balance in your life. Right? So you’re fighting for your dreams while you’re maintaining a balance. I added dragons just because dragons are pretty cool”, last years’ relay world cup bronze medallist showed his mature life-philosophy on his helmet. “I’m not a designer, nor an artist. I just had a lot of fun making it and turned my helmet into something that I could think up and this is what it came out to be. The artist who painted it on my helmet also made like one or two revisions and he did a great job”, Tran said.
As there’s no company who would paint helmets like that, the athletes ask for the help of different individuals, freelancers who help them complete the designs and apply their ideas on the helmet. USA’s top women speed skater, Jessica Kooreman, placed overall 16th at last season’s world championships worked with the same artist as Tran, meanwhile Kristen Santos asked a friend of hers to hand-paint her helmet.
My friend is an amazing artist. She painted it with acrylic paint by hand, so you can see the brush strokes. I have it kind of rough, not too polished because nothing with me is ever too polished. After it was ready painted, we did the top coat with my boyfriend”, Santos said.
“I really liked the idea of having something to show that I am American but also shows my own style, my own personality. I used red, white and blue with stripes and stars, just with different colours of stripes and different colour blues as of the US flag. Also, I have flowers on it, I love flowery patterns. I am girly and I love vintage stile with pale colours. I think that really goes well with my personality” the 16-year-old explained her choices. “It represents not only being part of the USA and representing the country but being myself with it.”