Speedskating helmets are awesome

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They look like plain-label bicycle helmets, but the helmets worn by the speedskaters at the Winter Olympics have an exceedingly high cool factor. It’s the numbers that make them so.

For some reason, to me the helmets evoke memories of old Auto Union Grand Prix race cars and “Speed Racer” (the cartoon, not the appallingly misguided movie).

Each helmet has the same pale blue covering on which is imprinted a seemingly random number in generic script. In the photo above, Apollo Anton Ohno of Seattle streaks along in the middle of the pack, wearing No. 256.

Ohno is absolutely the No. 1 speed skater in the world, and probably the best in history. Yet here he is chugging along with a generic number, as if he’s just one of 400-some grade school kids at hockey or soccer tryouts.

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