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Skates and stones may break your bones

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From left to right: Andrew Okuma, Brian Tan, Mike Hsiang and Gregory Ma are staff at Cyclone Taylor Sports. They model an ice hockey version of the power rangers, while sharing their skating expertise. (Mel Edgar)

Reported by Mel Edgar

Winter break doesn’t have to mean broken bones if you follow expert safety advice, before you slide into trouble.

The right gear and a good dose of common sense can keep winter activities fun and injury free.

A report from the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit said wearing a helmet is a good way to stay safe.

Kieran James, a first year engineering student agrees. Although B.C. has the second lowest helmet use in Canada, he has been wearing one since he took up skiing 14 years ago.

“People should wear helmets,” said James, “if they fall down it’s going to hurt them a lot more.”

According to data collected by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, young men are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized because of a skiing or snowboarding accident. Even so, Brandon Lipinski, a first year Langara criminal justice student, doesn’t wear a helmet.

“It’s peer pressure right,” Lapinski said. “I don’t see anyone wearing helmets, besides, I don’t board fast or take risks.”

How to protect your head

“Wearing a helmet is just a smart thing to do,” said Erin Wilkins, secretary-treasurer of BC Snowboard Association and a Langara recreation instructor.

“Accidents happen,” said Wilkins, who started wearing a helmet when she took up snowboarding. “You are sharing a hill with lots of different people at different levels skills, different ages, different comfort levels . . . anything can happen.”

Mike Hsiang, a skating teacher at Richmond’s Minoru Arenas, said that this year all rink staff have to wear helmets.

“Members of the public don’t have to wear them yet, but they should think about it anyway,” Hsiang said. “Either way, take it slow and steady out there.”

Wearing a helmet can help, but knowing how to fall correctly can also keep you skating safe, said Brian Tran, former skating instructor at Sunset Ice Rink in Vancouver. “Bend your knees and fall to the side, this way your bum won’t take the full force of your fall.”

Skating is probably the most unusual winter activity people do, said Gregory Ma, a skating teacher, at several Vancouver ice rinks.

“Your first steps on the ice can feel weird and strange,” said Ma, “make sure you have a friend who knows what they are doing, to lend you a helping hand.”


Here are some of the most prominent injuries people who participate in winter sports can face:

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