Teen athlete airlifted from Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park


Kaya Shlomi was just minutes from finishing a 12-hour adventure race when she fell off her bike and sustained a concussion during the Go-4-12 New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Adventure Racing Championships.

The Taradale High School senior adventure racing athlete was unconscious for about two minutes at the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park.

Principal Stephen Hensman said her teammates knew exactly what to do. “They cordoned off the area, didn’t move her, covered her with a survival blanket, and sent an SOS.”

A doctor was able to attend within 15 minutes of the accident and the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter was called to the scene.

Rudolf Steiner students forfeited their place in the race, to help Kaya.

Kaya’s mother said the girls “deserve a medal” for the quality of their care, and the wisdom of their decisions in a serious, stressful situation.

Mr Hensman said Kaya was in a comfortable condition in Nelson Hospital. She has been moved out of ICU.

“Earlier fears that she had sustained a back injury have yet to be confirmed but if she damaged a vertebrae, it is minor in nature, thankfully,” Mr Hensman said.

The medical staff at Nelson Hospital say they believe she will make a full recovery.

“Because no one saw the accident, the cause is not yet known, but judging by the position in which she was found, it is assumed that she was propelled over her handlebars in a downhill section of the race,” Mr Hensman said.

Rescue helicopter pilot, Tim Douglas-Clifford, had a difficult job winching Kaya out, needing to use the full length of the 9-metre cable.

Mr Douglas-Clifford said she was a bit “knocked around.” She was coming down an intermediate-level track named “Jaws.”

He said the helicopter crew had picked up a few mountain bikers who had come off on that track. Kaya was a member of the only secondary girls’ team to complete the Coast to Coast competition earlier this year.

She has been a New Zealand champion in adventure racing teams in the past, as well as winning two silver medals at the recent NZ Secondary Schools’ White-water Slalom at Lake Hawea.

Story by NZ Herald.