Dunne: All snow related sports to be banned

Kronic must go because it might hurt some people who think taking it is fun. A good start, but how about we deal with the real problem our nation faces?

Legislation will be brought before the House next week to prohibit all snow-related sports, Minister for Acceptable Fun Peter Dunne announced today.

The move comes after a sustained media campaign highlighting the very high rate of harm associated with such activities. ACC figures reveal that more than 13,000 injuries occurred on New Zealand's ski-fields in 2010, at a rate of about 100 a day. While most of these injuries were relatively minor, a good number were extremely serious and some even resulted in death.

"The Government has a responsibility to protect people from doing things that, while it may seem fun to them at the time, could hurt them," Mr Dunne said. "The high toll that snow sports wreck on New Zealand citizens, some of them very young, cannot be ignored any longer."

Ski industry figures have reacted to the news with horror. NZSki spokesman, Bodie "Shred" McMasters, described it as "over the top crap."

"There's tens-of-millions of dollars invested in the ski industry in New Zealand. It pumps God only knows how many dollars into our economy, what with all those Aussies who see us as a fun weekend away. So a few people fall over and break their neck every now and then - is that really a good reason to kill the golden goose?"

Mr Dunne was unmoved, however.

"Tragically, the snow abuse way of life has become entrenched in certain sectors of our society. It has become an inter-generational issue, with parents introducing their children to these so-called "sports" at a very young age.

What is more, there is significant evidence that peer pressure plays a large role in the perpetuation of snow abuse. The creation of a "snow culture", complete with distinctive clothing, vocabulary and compulsory douche bag behaviour traps participants in a downward spiral. The only way to break this cycle is through tough action."

Francis Sperling, President of Doctors for Behaving in a Responsible and Reasonable Manner, cautiously welcomed the Government's move.

"Our members have been concerned for some time at the number of injuries they see from skiing and other snow sports. We've been calling for some time for the Government to take action in this area. However, we are concerned that new snow-related sports seem to be coming on to the market constantly, and worry that any ban on existing sports will be ineffective."

While Mr Dunne conceded this was a risk, he said the legislation would provide for a response. "The Government's new law will give me the power to issue 'temporary fun prevention notices' that will impose a 12-month ban on activities that I consider a bit risky. This expedited process will enable a rapid response to any attempts to introduce new, untested and potentially lethal sporting activities to this country."

Snow-sports enthusiasts spoken to by Pundit generally were scathing of the Government's move.

Fred and Cath Chalmers, who own a sheep farm near Gore, doubted that the ban would have its intended effect. "We've got friends with a good sized slope in the back hills of their farm. If the commercial field close, we'll just take our runs there."

Frieda Sizemore, a law student at Otago, said she wouldn't really notice the change. "I don't really like skiing anyway - I just go to Queenstown for the bars. But it would be a bummer, I guess. Snowboard guys are cute."

Tom Brunner, 21, was already planning his response. "If they ban snowboarding, I'll just stick to skating and get my snow fill on X-Box. The Vancouver 2010 runs are great when you're high."