Skateboard injuries costly for ACC

By Kim Fulton -
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SPORTING: Artist and skateboarder Mark Watson says injuries are part of the process. PHOTO/FILE
SPORTING: Artist and skateboarder Mark Watson says injuries are part of the process. PHOTO/FILE

An Eketahuna skateboarder with 30 years of experience says there's plenty to love about the sport, despite the risks.

Wairarapa people made 10 claims for skateboarding injuries in the year to March 29 worth $3878, according to ACC figures. Skateboarding injuries have cost more than half a million dollars nationwide this year.

Eketahuna skateboarder Mark Watson, who has broken more than 30 bones, said injuries occurred all the time in the sport and were part of a skater's progression.

He said skaters should work within their skill level to help avoid injuries; however, falls were part of the learning process.

Experienced skaters should teach beginners things such as rolling out of falls. He recommended youngsters and those skating hills and ramps wear helmets.

Watson, who is also an artist, said skateboarding was a lifestyle choice and a form of expression.

"It's quite a beautiful sport, in the sense that you can progress in any way you choose and your character is sort of defined in the way that you skateboard," he said.

"I can do one trick and another person can do the exact same trick, but we do them in completely different ways."

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said to stay safe skateboarders should take advantage of council skateparks, which hundreds of thousands of dollars had been spent on, or other parks or footpaths. Skating down the middle of the road was asking for trouble, he said.

Mr Pauling said skateboarders could be hard to see on the roads and their wheels just had to strike an imperfection to cause them to veer out in front of a car.

Skateboarders should also wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads if they were going to be pushing the boundaries, he said.

"Like any road-user group, we say stick to the recommended safety gear and the right place and you should be okay."

Nationally, there were 2130 ACC claims for skateboarding injuries in the first quarter of 2016. Those claims have cost the national compensation scheme $592,132 to date.

Several skateboarders have made headlines for risky stunts in recent months.

Kapiti man Tristan Hunter died when he fell off his longboard while skating down Maungakotukutuku Road, near Paraparaumu, last month.

He was hit by a following car in what his family called a "freak accident".

The 21-year-old was regarded as one of New Zealand's best longboarders and had aspirations to ride professionally.

Footage of a longboarder riding down State Highway 1 on the southern side of the Brynderwyn Hills at high speed was posted to YouTube earlier this year.

Northland police called the ride "an act of stupidity".

Bay of Plenty police said a skateboarder being towed by a car at Mount Maunganui last month was "high-risk behaviour at its worst".

They travelled almost the entire length of Marine Parade reaching speeds of 40km/h.

Police media advisor Jillian Reid said skateboarders were allowed to ride on the road but police strongly advised them against doing so, as there was significant risk of serious injury.

She said skateboards were defined as vehicles, and riders had to operate safely and responsibly and follow the road rules like any other road user.

"If people are using their boards safely and appropriately, without causing nuisance or putting themselves or other members of the public at risk, then police are unlikely to have an issue."

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