Chilling moment for daredevil is a reminder of the dangers risk takers face

Kyle Rast has been a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association for eight years and three years ago became a professional member after a  snow slide down the fall line gave him a message to tell others.  The Castle Mountain Resort employee who lives life on the edge, had a surreal moment five years ago while setting off a controlled slide on one of the runs called Gambler. Rast was on skis and after dropping a 12kg bomb to set off the slide, he proceeded to the designated safe zone.

“As I approached my safe spot, a very small pillow let go with just enough force to turn me backwards and send me sliding down a 40 deg. slope.  I could not self arrest, was gaining speed and snow.  I went through a set of trees, over a small rock band, then really gained speed and more snow, hit more trees and stumps before coming to a rest at the bottom of the slope,” said Rast.

Knocked unconscious after rolling and bouncing off the ground for over 600 metres, he was evacuated by STARS helicopter to Foothills hospital in critical condition.

“I was buried face up but head down about 1 metre.  I had a boot out of the snow.” Rast says he was as close to death as you can come and still get back.

“I was 6’6″ full of testosterone and bullet proof (not so much). I had a small amount of experience and wanting to impress. I also had a really cool job Skiing and bombs are rad.”

For ten days doctors would not tell his wife or his mother whether he would still be there in the morning, but miraculously, he survived and after 15-days in the ICU and four days on the Trauma floor, he was released from the hospital.

Two months later his son was born. “Wow,” is all Rast could say as he reflected on what could have been.

He now had a real story to tell anyone thinking about going into the backcountry and how to weigh the risk versus reward of venturing into the unknown. Rast continues to tell his story in  combination with the avalanche safety courses in the hopes of driving avalanche awareness to the public.

His course the AST1 is taught in partnership with the C.A.A and contains information on how to be aware of your surroundings and to avoid those really hazardous situations. They also learn how to make a good trip plan and learn companion rescue techniques with the ultimate goal is that the student realizes the degree of responsibility required when lives are on the line.

Rast also adds that while you can take all the safety precautions possible, it doesn’t account for every circumstance.

“If you travel in moderate or considerable avalanche hazard, 90 per cent of the time nothing will happen, it is that 10% that will get you.  Most avalanche incidents occur when the hazard is rated moderate or considerable.”

“Basically I think people need to get educated and get out there.”

It was clear that Rast’s fearless spirit of jumping into the unknown was just as prevalent as it was when the adrenalin junky got caught in the avalanche five years ago.

“Lets face the fact that risk is fun, there are lots of ways to fullfil this need, and alot of way worse ways of doing it.  I will promote healthy outdoor living over many other risky behaviours.”

The C.A.A. website http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/ offers many other safety courses, including AST 2, Avalanche Operations Level One, First Aid courses and rescue courses’. An education that Rast says makes a better decision maker.

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Canadian athletes owning the top of the podium

Canadian history in its brief worldly existence has a rich heritage of national pride that comes out when our athletes are wearing the grace of our humble nation at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

The Canadian government had a plan five years ago that would enable our athletes to excel for the first time ever at home. Canada hosted the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal and the 1989 Winter Olympics in Calgary and our athletes never won a gold medal at home.

The Canadian Olympic Committee along with the help of the Federal government has been helping Canadian athletes bear the burden of competing at the highest level in sport.

The Federal government gave Canadian athletes about 117 million over the last five years in what they called “own the podium”, placing expectations on our athletes to rise to the top of the medal standings at this year’s Winter Games.

Perhaps the mistake the COC made was promising 35 million Canadians that come the end of the Games, Canada would sit on top of the standings.

It was an acceptable goal for our athletes to reach as Canada finished the 2006 Games in Turin just one medal shy of the United States, but not everything always goes according to plan.

Canada wants to be on top of the medal standings, but there are other reasons why Canadians can feel proud of their athletes. Not only did our athletes break that jinx of never having won a gold medal on home soil, but right now the Canadian team has won 13 gold medals and could have 15 by the end of the Games, so in a way, Canadian athletes are owning the top of the podium.

The 13 gold medals ties an all-time record with the former Soviet Union for the most gold medals in either the summer or winter Olympics. It’s also the most gold medals ever won by a host nation.

Canada should feel proud of our athlete’s gold medal performances.  Canadian athletes are making a bold statement by winning more gold than silver or bronze and appear to not be willing to settle for anything less than the best.

Silver and Bronze medals are wonderful, but they just don’t compare to being number one, winning gold and hearing thousands of Canadians sing Oh’ Canada as the athlete cup’s the gold medal in their hands and tries to take a bite to see if it’s real. It’s real alright and the pleasure from watching is a surreal moment in itself.

By winning gold in Vancouver, Canadian athletes won’t be on top of the medal standings, but their performances will inspire the next generation of Canadian athletes to climb to the top of the podium.

Apply Alberta helping students find their path

Apply Alberta, a government initiative to bridge the communication gap between post-secondary instituations has finally taken flight after 2-years of co-ordinated meetings. The Lethbridge College APAS Team is part of a province wide plan to network 21 public, post-secondary institutions to make life easier for students all over Alberta.

There are two major benefits that come from the Apply Alberta program. Prospective students in Alberta can now go to their website at www.applyalberta.ca and fill in their application for admission forms and afterwords, the student has the option of choosing to keep their application history accessible to any university or college in Alberta. So, if the student decides to apply to a different program or post-secondary institution, the information is already there.

A process which saves time for college staff as well as the student. Additionally, all transcripts will now be available at the touch of a button. Instead of having to request their transcripts from Alberta Education and paying of fees to have those transcripts sent to the respective institution, the students or admissions faculty can go to the Apply Alberta site and access them at any time.

“This will save our staff an enormous amount of time,” says Suzie Kennedy, a key member of the APAS team.

“The feedback we’re getting from students is that it’s slick and easy.”

Toyota says solution on the way

New gas pedal systems are on the way for Toyota customers who have been dealing with malfunctioning products on several of Toyota’s biggest selling models. There has been ongoing concern all over North America and Europe, leading to the recall of 4.3 million Toyota models in the last year.

Toyota uses two different companies, the CTS and Densol Gas pedal systems in their vehicles.

Problems surfaced when the CTS gas pedal system started malfunctioning, leading to the gas pedal sticking or not releasing and catching drivers by surprise as several accidents and even fatalities occurred when the vehicles accelerated unexpectedly.

Lethbridge Toyota says their’s help on the way. Toyota owners with a registered VIN card that matches up with the installation of the CTS model gas pedal systems will receive a letter in the mail prompting a change before an accident takes place.

“Our tech’s have been going through training on how to install the new gas pedal systems, starting yesterday and they’ll be ready to install them when they arrive,” says Toyota General Manager, Andrea Almer.

The parts are being shipped and are due to arrive sometime next week. Toyota has already begun sending out letters to customers who have the CTS part in their cars.

“We’ll have computer systems in place next week that will recognize the VIN numbers and match them with the faulty part or people can wait for the letters from Toyota.”

Light at the end of the tunnel for Oilers fans

Oilers fans have been witness to yet another debacle of their clubs season as they seem destined to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. After signing Nicolai Habibulin from Chicago over the summer and signing Mike Comrie to a one-year deal, there was a sense from fans that a good season was in the making. The bad omen that many fans thought surrounded the Oilers after the charades of Comrie running out or being shipped out of town, depending on which way you looked at it meant the Oilers and Comrie had turned over a new leaf. Oilers management signed future hall of fame coach Pat Quinn to a four-year deal and brought in Tom Renney and Jim Flemming to give the Oilers one of the most experienced and capable coaching staffs in the NHL. That never happned and the Oilers have been bottom dwellers and 16 points out of eight place in the western conference for weeks now. This will be the fourth straight year the Oilers have failed to make the playoffs and hockey die-hards in Edmonton are upset. Actually, pissed off would be a more accurate way of describing the fans attitude towards the team’s lack of performance. The players aren’t completely to blame. Decimated by injuries, total of 257 man games lost and several players suffered from the flu and other illnesses throughout the season. It hasn’t all been bad news for the Oiler fans. The wait is over for Oilers fan who have waited three years for Dustin Penner to break out of his funk since he signed a 5-year 21.25 M offer sheet from then Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe who saw something in Penner that nobody watching the NHL in the last three years had seen a glimpse of up until this point. No more calling out by reporters who flagged the large forward for being overweight. Penner came to camp in the best shape of his life, minimized his use of barley drinks over the summer and flew out of the starting gate this season. Before the mid point of the season Penner had already surpassed his totals from the previous two seasons and even got a good look by the Canadian Olympic team scouts and has carried the load for the Oilers most of the season with 41 points in 46 games and a +6 rating. After starting the season in the press box, Robert Nilson has found his edge and is now showing a compete level that matches his skill level. It’s now showing on the ice. Gilbert Brule, the player who was given up on by the Columbus Blue Jackets last season with a demotion to their AHL affiliate came into Oilers camp on fire and that continued when the season began. Brule is high risk at times, but he seems to be maturing into a quality third line player who can be counted on to contribute some valuable offence, while playing the body and forechecking hard to get the puck back. To add to the Oilers problems this season, Habibulin suffered a back injury and has missed 23 games this season, leaving Jeff Druin Deslaurier and Devon Dubnyk to carry the load and the weight of the entire Oiler nation. Oilers dynamic forward Ales Hemsky was lost to shoulder injury, missing the last 21 games and disappointing Oiler fans who began to see Hemsky come out of his shell as he looked ready to make the jump to a legitimate All-Star status. Anouther bright spot for the Oilers has been the play of call-up Ryan Potulny, who has recorded 16 points in 31 games. The light at the end of the tunnel are the prospects available at this years draft. Jordan Eberle had a strong straining camp and pre-season; however, was sent back to his junior team, The Regina Pats for the betterment of his development. The kid, nicknamed The Messiah” to folks in Regina, extended his reputation for clutch play after scoring two goalsls in the remaining minutes of the World Junior Gold medal game against the United States. Canada lost in overtime, but that magic by Eberle is bound to follow him along during his professional career. The Oilers have a future star and hall of famer in my mind and a player who will help the Oilers in the very near future. Taylor Hall destroyed the competition at the World Juniors and there’s a strong chance the Oilers could be in a position to draft him this summer. Tyler Seguin and Cam Fowler are no slouches in the draft either. They are both rising stars who could change the fortunes of any franchise if Hall isn’t available. Look no further than the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and several others who have built their franchise around a strong rebuilding process. History backs the notion that building a stable of quality high draft picks is the key to winning and setting up the opportunity for a small dynasty, despite the parity in the NHL. Oiler fans have been asking for a rebuild and now they’re getting it. Admittedly, it’s been the most painful season to watch the Oilers, not to mention many years of mediocrity, but hitting rock bottom may be what is needed to wake-up to a beautiful sunrise.

Beating down procrastination’s ugly head

Procrastinating is one of the key lack-of motivational tools behind every unsuccessful person. If you’re not dependable to yourself or others, how can they trust you will do a great job when called upon. Some ways to turn you bad habit into a good one are by not justifying why you didn’t do what you said you would. Stop making excuses; there are none. Stopping procrastination is about being accountable to yourself and others. Stop saying to yourself, I have time so I can do it later or I don’t feel motivated or in the right mood to do it right now. Don’t wait till you feel motivated. Often times you will feel motivated and in the right mood once you start the project. One way to find out if you’re telling yourself lies is to start the project and work at it for 15 minutes. Chances are that you will feel less tired and more motivated after getting into the task. If not, you at least got the project started and know that your exhaustion is legitimate. Beat down procrastinations ugly head to give yourself a successful future.

Lethbridge Police go without snow tires

With winter in full swing, snow tires are on the minds of many who want to be safe on the road. The Lethbridge police aren’t using them and believe it’s the responsibility of the individual driver to drive safely and slow down if need be.

In an article recently published in the Calgary Herald, an officer made comments alluding to the lack of snow tires on Edmonton police cruisers and thought it was crazy that Canada’s northern most city, doesn’t have snow tires, yet Calgary does.

When asked about snow safety when driving on Lethbridge roads, Kristen Harding responded by saying, “I think people always have to be mindful of safety. If you’re going to fast, slowing down is one of the most important things you can do.”

In the Dec.9 issue of The Endeavour, the importance of winter tires was made clear.

“The difference is a pretty big jump in traction from summer or all-season tires to winter tires,” says Brian Aman, chief instructor at the AMA driving school.

Winter tires can grip in weather up to -30 degrees Celcius, because of softer rubber that stays pliable during rough conditions.

Aman recommends that all four tires be changed to winter tires, as only changing two will decrease the effectiveness of the grip.