Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Skier carves new path

Paramedics who rushed to help after a devastating accident inspire new career.
Rose Battersby. Photo / Getty Images
Rose Battersby. Photo / Getty Images

A top Kiwi skier whose sporting career and Olympic dream was ended by a broken back is seeking a career in paramedicine.

Three years ago, Taupo freestyle skier Rose Battersby broke her lower spine in a practice-run crash at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

Medics rushed to help the stricken Battersby, then 19, and their efforts have inspired her to retrain. Now 22, Battersby is one semester into a paramedicine degree at Auckland University of Technology.

"Becoming a paramedic and passing on the work done by the people who saved me and the use of my legs, I feel like I owe it to the universe to become a paramedic and change people's lives they way they changed mine," Battersby said from a working holiday in Mammoth Lakes, California.

"My ultimate goal is to work for a rescue helicopter service. Having this accident was the first major challenge I ever had in my life, the first time something has gone wrong. For me to have a good life, I need to start earning it, I need to give back more."

Rose Battersby. Photo / Getty Images
Rose Battersby. Photo / Getty Images

Battersby said her parents, and even herself, were "shocked" when she enrolled in university.

"We never thought I would get there".

Despite the accident, Battersby clung on to a hope of making New Zealand's 2014 Winter Olympic Games team in Sochi, Russia.

But when told surgery on her back needed to be re-done -- involving a titanium insert fusing properly with six vertebrae -- her life had to be re-evaluated.

"Going into that second surgery was the end of my skiing career," she said.

"My surgeon said it wasn't looking good and from that point it felt like I was in limbo.

"From such a young age I just had tunnel vision. All I saw was skiing. Having all that ripped away sent me into a bit of a state."

Battersby moved to Wanaka to be with family.

While planning a possible OE she came across the idea of a career in medicine.

"Someone suggested why not be a ski patroller or first-aider," she said. "And then a switch went off in my head. From that moment, I was determined paramedicine was what I was going to do."

She will have to continue studying even after she has her degree and then start working.

"It's most likely I'll start working for St John. I'll need to do that if I want to get on to a chopper crew."

- Herald on Sunday

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