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Snow castle gets enhanced safety
Woman injured last weekend; organizers cushion end of slide with snow, close it at night

John McFadden
Northern News Services
Friday, March 24, 2017

Snowking's Winter Festival has taken steps to ensure no one else gets hurt at the site after a woman was injured last weekend.

NNSL photograph

Dylan Snaggs, 11, is all smiles as he rides the short slide at the snow castle on Tuesday. Festival organizers say they have are now adding snow to the bottom of both slides after a woman was injured last weekend. - John McFadden/NNSL photo

NNSL photograph

This sign at the snow castle clearly tells people using the ice slides there that they do so at their own risk. Festival organizers say they have taken steps to ensure visitor safety after two people were hurt at the site, one seriously, last weekend. - John McFadden/NNSL photo

A woman was taken to hospital after she broke either her leg or her ankle during an event Saturday night.

Yellowknife's Snowking Anthony Foliot said he feels bad about what happened. He told Yellowknifer castle volunteers brought ice for her injury, gave her a ride and carried her up the stairs to her home.

"I think we went over and above for that poor girl," he said.

Foliot said he also heard a child was taken to hospital after going down an ice slide at the castle but didn't suffer any serious injuries. He said there is a reason he named the popular courtyard draw the Dead Man's Slide. He referred to a sign at the slide's entrance that states visitors use it at their own risk.

"Parents are strongly urged to monitor their children," he said.

Foliot said in order to be permitted to build the snow castle, he must carry about $1 million in liability insurance.

Festival director Erika Nyyssonen said organizers have since enacted safety measures to improve safety on the two ice slides at the castle.

"We're planning to close the slides for evening events because we know people (may) be under the influence," she said.

"During the day, we have courtyard staff on duty. They will ensure there is soft fluffy snow at the bottom of each slide."

Nyyssonen said she's aware this weekend will be very busy with the Long John Jamboree going on next door as well. She said if parents know their children are going to want to ride the slides, it is a good idea to have them put a bicycle helmet on.

"We have more volunteers in the courtyard this week for March Break and this weekend," she said.

Foliot noted that there was a medical first responder on site during last weekend's rave party equipped with Naloxone spray in case of an opiod overdose and a defibrillator kit.

Kim Walker, spokesperson for the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission, stated in an e-mail the commission completed an inspection of the snow castle earlier this season and the agency had not received any report of injuries or unsafe working conditions.

Doug Gillard, acting director of public safety for the city, stated in an e-mail that there have been no ambulances called to the site this season.

Markham Breitbach was inside at the snow castle on Tuesday with his children. He said he has no concerns about letting his children use the slides.

"I think it's pretty safe," he said. "You are just as likely to slip in the parking lot and whack your head on the ice as you are to hurt yourself in here."

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