Snowboard accident victim calls for mandatory helmets
Still recovering from a brain injury after an accident at P.E.I.'s Brookvale Winter Activity Park, Ryan Condon wants the province to make helmet use at the park mandatory.
The 16-year-old Bonshaw resident lost the use of his dominant hand in the accident last month, and it is only slowly returning.
"Some little kid cut me off and then I fell, and one of my buddies that was snowboarding behind me accidentally hit me in the head," Condon told CBC News on Tuesday.
When his mother got the call, it sounded like a minor accident, requiring only stitches, but by the time she got to the hospital, doctors realized the case was more serious. Ryan needed brain surgery.
"He described it as an egg that was being cracked. That's exactly what the side of his head would look like," said Karen Condon.
"He figured that there was bone in his brain somewhere, because of the way the hand was reacting. So what he had to do was go in and take the little pieces of bone out and fix up the side of his skull."
Helmets seen as uncool
Ryan Condon has never worn a helmet while snowboarding, something he now regrets, and he'd like the government to move to prevent other accidents, and other people from sharing his regret.
"I know I wouldn't be wearing a helmet if it didn't happen to me, so people should wear helmets," he said.
"Unless the government does make it mandatory, probably a lot of people won't wear them."
Brett Doyle, a snowboarder and sports-gear retailer, agrees the province should act. A mandate from the province would make a huge difference, because it owns P.E.I.'s only ski hill.
Doyle said part of the problem is that professional snowboarders are failing to set an example.
"For some reason there seems to be an uncoolness factor, a taboo to wear a helmet," he said.
"As a result, the kids that are looking up to them, they don't wear them either."
There are no jurisdictions in North America that mandate helmets on ski hills, but it's not just a reluctance to be first that makes the province hesitate.
Snowboarder ready to go again, with helmet
The Canadian Standards Association hasn't published its standards for alpine ski and snowboard helmets, so there aren't any helmets on the Canadian market that are certified to meet CSA requirements, Anthony Toderian, a spokesman for the CSA based in Toronto, told CBC News on Wednesday.
CSA standards are voluntary, added Toderian, and it's up to federal or provincial regulators, or different sports associations, to determine how and if they are going to apply approved standards.
"That's the hard part, is to whether or not you know the helmets are going to protect to the extent that one might expect," said Tourism Minister Valerie Docherty.
"We're trying to follow along both what all the other ski parks are doing in Canada. We're working with the legality side of it."
Ryan Condon intends to return to snowboarding, and CSA approved or not, said he'll be wearing a helmet, and he'll be encouraging everyone he knows to do the same.