Former free-style skier and coach Mike Shaw now speaks to young workers and employers about safety on the job.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News.

Former free-style skier and coach Mike Shaw now speaks to young workers and employers about safety on the job.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News.

‘Listen to your gut’ urges injured skier

Mike Shaw was told he’d never walk again after an accident four years ago, but he defied the odds

When Mike Shaw talks to young people about staying safe in their daily lives and in the workplace, he stresses three things—listen to your gut, speak up and look and think.

Four years ago, the former competitive free-style skier and coach didn’t do any of those things as he demonstrated a ski jump to the young skiers he was coaching and, in his words, it changed his life forever.

Shaw fell doing a routine jump he had landed hundreds of times before and broke his neck. He was told he would never walk again. He was 26-years-old.

But, miraculously, in less than two years he was not only back on his feat, he ran 10 kilometres and even made it back onto skies—albeit not competitively or not making jumps.

While competitive skiing and the aerial flips he once did with ease were now just memories for Shaw—who lives in Lake Country and originally hails from Vernon—he now shares his story and helps advise young people about risk, urging them to be aware of safety on the job.

“When I was 26, I felt I had the world figured out,” he said Friday during a safety conference in Kelowna for employers. “I was wrong. You never plan for a spinal chord injury. Life can be random.”

He said it is possible to handle risk and come out safe on the other side. But you have to be smart about it.

And it’s also important that employers listen to their young workers when concerns about safety are raised.

While he urges the people he talks to to trust in their capabilities, and says we are all capable of whatever we put our minds to with the right planning, preparation and training, we need to be smart about how we deal with risk.

If properly thought out, and with the properly developed skills, he says there is high percentage that tasks that contain a degree of risk can be undertaken safely. But it requires work.

“Safety rules are usually made to keep people safe because someone has already been hurt doing that thing in the past,” he said.

“We can educate kids to know the rules but we must develop a sense of personal awareness in them too.”

That’s where his “listen to your gut” advice comes in.

“That little voice inside will never steer you wrong,” said Shaw. He admits he wished he had listened to his gut moments before his accident. It was telling him there was something wrong that day on the ski slope four years ago as he approached the jump.

He said if young workers have questions or concerns, they should feel encouraged to ask and express them. And their bosses need to be open to that, and to listen, as well as acknowledge their workers needs and provide solutions.

Earlier this year, Shaw spoke at the annual North Okanagan Labour Council’s Day of Mourning in Kelowna, an event held to remember workers lost on the job.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Asia Youngman (right) is pictured shooting another short film she wrote and directed titled Hatha. (Luba Popovic)
Peachland set to star in fantasy thriller film about N’xaxaitk’w — a.k.a. the Ogopogo

The film will follow an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read