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But Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter Queenstown manager Ian Ridley said the rapid transfer of the 16-year-old to Christchurch after the crash at Coronet Peak could make all the difference to his recovery, and showed the value of the service's base in the resort town, opened late last year.
The Australian was taking part in a school trip to the skifield when he came off a jump and landed badly about 4pm, Mr Ridley said.
"He was found by his friend unresponsive in the snow with what looked like a potentially serious spinal injury.''
The teenager received some treatment on site before he was flown by an Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter to Christchurch Hospital, arriving by 7.30pm.
Mr Ridley said the rapid transfer could make all the difference to his recovery, because with some types of spinal injuries, being transferred to hospital for treatment quickly was crucial.
"It's a really good example of the availability of the right aircraft in the right place, and the right care being provided then going to the proper destination.''