Kiwis lucky to be alive
Latest report on a close call in Whistler:
Two Kiwi friends are lucky to be alive after being caught in an avalanche while skiing in Canada's renowned Whistler ski resort.
George Milne, son of Hutt City councillor and former Act Party chief of staff Christopher Milne, suffered a broken leg after being pinned to a tree during the slide.
Speaking from Whistler, near Vancouver, George said the avalanche, which lasted around five minutes, was "the scariest thing that's ever happened" to him.
"I wouldn't recommend it."
Milne, Nelson man Danny Garrett and another skier had been enjoying 30cm of fresh snow on Tuesday, New Zealand time, when the accident happened.
Milne said he heard a noise behind him and assumed it was another skier.
"The next minute I was holding on to the tree stump and the snow was going over my head."
He said when he realised what was happening he was frozen in terror. The trio narrowly escaped going over a 5m to 6m cliff.
When the avalanche stopped he heard Garrett, who was uninjured but knocked over by the snow, call out asking if they were alright.
The other skier had "done his knee in pretty badly" but was also able to walk out.
"I heard the other guy and I knew they were okay ... I managed to walk out and just kind of slid down on my bum," said Milne.
"We skied down to the lift and found the snow patrol."
He said it was only after the event that he began to feel his foot swelling in his ski boot and realised he'd been injured.
Milne was taken to the emergency department for X-rays and treatment.
Christopher Milne said he panicked when he got a call from his son to say something had happened.
"I asked him how he was and he said, 'I've been better'. At that point I was glad that I was hearing his voice."
He said his son had emailed him only a few days earlier to say his travel insurance had lapsed and asked him to renew it. "Fortunately I did."
The University of Otago student was due to return to New Zealand on Wednesday after a working holiday in Whistler.
He was taking his last week off work to ski. "But I only got a day and a half of that."
It's not all bad news. Because of his injury, he has been upgraded to business class for his flight back.
Garrett, who met Milne in Canada, is staying on to ski for the rest of the season.