Casualties piling up

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Irishman Tomas Mac Donncha (right) found himself in Lakes District Hospital last week after he was knocked out in a skiing accident.

The 27-year-old fell and hit his head while skiing by himself near the Sugar Bowl chair at The Remarkables last Monday.

“I can’t remember what happened or where it happened. It could have been near the terrain park, but I didn’t attempt any of the jumps.”

Mac Donncha, who’d been skiing only 10 days, cracked his helmet and broke his goggles in the fall.

He’s now nursing a “bloody right eye”, facial bruising and a torn deltoid – and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to ski again this winter. Mac Donncha’s eyebrow ring was also ripped out – he’s since replaced the one he lost.

Mac Donncha is grateful he wore his helmet, protecting him from even worse damage.

Barely a few weeks into the season, skifields are already dealing with a growing number of injuries caused by skiers and riders pushing themselves too hard – and they’re being reminded to play it safe when they’re on the slopes.

“We have our share of incidents,” The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence says.

“It’s people getting out at the beginning of the year without warming up – they’re excited. The snow conditions are pretty good so it does come down to people’s ability.”

A male snowboarder was choppered to Lakes District Hospital last Friday after he hit his head on a jump at The Remarkables’ intermediate terrain park. “He hit his head going on to a feature,” Lawrence says.

“I do believe he lost consciousness for a short time and when that happens we call a helicopter for their own safety.

“I don’t know where he got to but he was certainly in a stable condition when he left us.”

Lawrence isn’t sure of the man’s age and nationality, nor whether he was wearing a helmet. “People do charge when they’re not quite ready, and that’s when they can get into trouble.”

In a separate incident, Mountain Scene understands another jump at The Remarkables was closed for a period after someone crashed and cut themselves last Friday – officials were seen measuring the blood pool in the snow.

But Lawrence says he doesn’t know anything about this incident. “There are accidents that happen. That’s a well-known fact – people take on a bit more risk when they leave the ground and attempting those things.

“All we can say is for people to make sure they’re comfortable with their ability before they start charging.

“We do have freestyle clinics and instructors up there who are keen to coach people on the features.”