A small part of Paris has been lending a hand on the slopes of Mt Hutt in New Zealand this week.

A replica of Rodin’s famous bronze statue ‘The Thinker’ has made his debut on various parts of the Canterbury ski field.

The statue’s presence is part of the country’s comprehensive ACC injury prevention campaign which is a government-backed programme that ensures everyone in New Zealand is covered by a no-fault scheme if they’ve been injured in an accident.

Over the past six years ACC have accepted 6,595 snow-sports related injuries in the Canterbury region alone.

The idea of ‘The Thinker’, part of ACC’s Preventable campaign, is to encourage skiers and boarders to think before they act and help prevent injury on our slopes.  The organisation’s research has found 90% of injuries not random events but predictable and therefore preventable. It also found that the majority of injuries occur in the last few runs of the day.  A QR code on the statue links to injury prevention advice related to snow-sports.

“We hope ‘The Thinker’ becomes a bit of a talking point on the ski field and that it encourages people to be injury free so they can keep doing what they love,” said ACC Injury Prevention Programme Leader James Whitaker who was at Mt Hutt to promote injury prevention.

ACC is supporting this activity with a comprehensive media and marketing campaign that aims to keep people injury free.

Besides the statue itself, every time skiers and snowboarders pull the bar down on the chairlift, they will be met by a ‘Have a Hmmm’ sticker on the bar to remind them to stay safe.

“Our claims data shows us that the skiing slopes are a high-risk place for injury,” says James, “We are encouraging anyone who is heading to the mountain to take the time to assess the risk then make smart choices that keep them injury free and having fun.”

Injuries can have life-changing impacts – for those who are injured, their whānau and society.

In 2021, ACC accepted 10,820 claims for snow sports injuries, 6,540 skiing and 4,280 snowboarding.

James encouraged any casual skiers and snowboarders to hit the gym and strengthen the legs to make sure they are ready for the rigours of a day on the slopes.

“A lot of people turn up to the mountain – often after a long break – and jump straight onto their board or skis without doing any conditioning to be ready for that challenge,” he says, “It’s always good to prepare your body for an activity you haven’t done in a while.”

ACC recommends that all people hitting the slopes complete a warm-up and stretch.

“For the casual skier and snowboarder, it is a good idea to park in the lower carparks and walk up to the chairlift,” says James, “That will get your legs warmed up and ready for your first run of the day.”

ACC’s recommendations to skiers and boarders avoid getting hurt are:

· Warm up and stretch before heading up the mountain.

· Have the right equipment – always wear a helmet and protective gear like wrist guards are good to have, as well. The appropriate size and flexibility of your skis/boards are important.

· Be aware of the conditions – check the mountain report and don’t go full throttle straight away. Take a slow inspection run to feel things out and take a second run to test things before getting stuck in.

· Follow the NZ Snow Safety Code: Know Your Limits, Find Your Space, Protect Yourself.

· Follow terrain park etiquette – It’s important that you know the etiquette for skiing/snowboarding in the terrain park. Make sure you are up to speed before going up the mountain.

ACC also have an online quiz on your attitude to risk? Attitude to risk quiz