Canadian man dies in snowboarding accident in Nagano


A 43-year-old Canadian businessman died in a snowboarding accident at Nozawa Onsen in Nagano Prefecture, on Monday.

According to local authorities, Enrique Velez was snowboarding on a slope in the back country when he hit a tree at around 10 a.m. on Monday after having left the resort at 9 a.m. Local police said he suffered severe chest injuries. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead two hours later.

Velez, who lived in Tokyo's Nakano Ward, worked for Japan Creative Enterprise. He had been in Japan since 2003 and was a prominent member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

He leaves a wife and daughter.

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Ouch....the immovable object vs the unstoppable force, something had to give and sadly this guy died.

Condolences to his wife and daughter, I hope that can find some small solace in knowing that he died doing something he loved.

When I was a kid, playing American football with my friends in a park, I went out for a pass, looked over my shoulder while running down the field, at a local park, and ran smack into a tree. I was lucky, mild concussion, broken shoulder bone, and other assorted injuries. I was in the hospital for about a week recovering.

Whenever I read stories like these, of people who run into trees, I hear the giggles and smirks, maybe somewhat deserved, but dying because of it, is never deserved.

I wish them peace.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

RIP Enrique. Condolences to his loved ones and associates.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I was just skiing at Hakuba in Nagano last week. These courses do not have trees on them, and by the word "back country" I imagine they mean he was off the marked course.

I saw many people snowboarding on the side trails outside the caution markers where the trees are. This happens sometimes.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I wonder if he was wearing a helmet.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

I wonder if he was wearing a helmet.

Local police said he suffered severe chest injuries.

Not sure if a helmet would've helped.....

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Makes me wonder how many other people ( Japanese ) die each year in Snowboarding / Skiing accidents. I mean, this seems to be news because he was a "foreigner".

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I was in Nozawa on Sunday. Most people ski offpiste in the trees in Japan looking for powder, but it was spring conditions there, old melt-freeze snow that is icy and super fast first thing but softens during the day, quickly in the sun and slowly, if its warm enough, in the shade. Its hard enough to ride open steep glades in such variable conditions, let alone with trees in the way. Its completely different to riding trees in forgiving powder conditions. It is hard to stay in control on skis, let alone on a snowboard with a single edge and soft boots. The same area that might be the time of your life with powder in January can be almost unrideable with alternating slush, ice, and breakable crust on corn snow in March. You have to crank it back and ride defensively, which isn't as much fun.

RIP to a fellow snow enthusiast.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The same area that might be the time of your life with powder in January can be almost unrideable with alternating slush, ice, and breakable crust on corn snow in March.

That is why the areas are flagged off so people do not go there. Except this guy, and we see why

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

That is why the areas are flagged off so people do not go there. Except this guy, and we see why

Except him, and me and my mates, and millions of others. Riding off-piste is part of snowboarding, and it's the standout part of snowboarding in Japan. This guy must have been travelling at some speed to sustain fatal chest injuries from a tree, and to be riding at speed through the trees one must be a good rider; either he was out of his depth, or he had an unlucky fall / made a miscalculation. Either way, RIP to him and thoughts with his poor family today

this seems to be news because he was a "foreigner".

Not really. It's news because it happened. Japanese skiers also have accidents, and when fatal they do also get reported.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Sad to hear that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

kohakuebisu: Most Tourist Go undertake rope. There is not many Ski jo,s that have tree run. If they do they have very stringent rules regarding entering tree run. Most foreigner tourist who go backcountry don,t have the number one essential a, phone they can use to ring the recover team which all ski Jo have. I have rarely seen any Japanese skier going under the rope. Japanese skier and boarders are very obedient on the slope of the Ski jo. In this case I assume he had a back country guild to call in the position and condition of the boarder. Accident do happen when one ventures out in unknown condition. I can say being a boarder who been hitting the tree run at Geto Kogen all season. It is snowing now in Kitakame, I going this afternoon to have a few trees run. It is the way like to go.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

He leaves a wife and daughter.

Deep condolences to them. May they get through this very difficult time. Our prayers are with both of you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My sincere sympathy to his beloved family, hope the almighty grants them the fortitude to overcome the tremendous loss.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Very tragic, most places don't have much powder anymore so the conditions could have had a factor in his death

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Yoshitsune Your assumption that he must have been a good rider is a little odd. One doesn't have to be good to ride through the trees at speed. That may be the thrill of snowboarding, but if you have a wife and a kid and you still do it, you're not thinking. Leave thrills and spills for the young and independent. I did a lot of "backcountry" skiing when I was a kid, but gave it up when I got married. I can still get enough kicks on the runs inside of the tape.

I feel bad for his family.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let just call it fate. He was surely experienced at what he did. Condolence to his family. We all move on no matter how painful life is.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Only a month after the guide from Nes Zealand living in the Niseko area was killed in an avalanche while in an off limits area. Also leaving behind wife and young child. Very sad for the children.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tragic news. RIP, Enrique. You were a first-class individual, inspiring to all around you with your infectious energy, optimism and great sense of humour. It was a priviledge to know you and study alongside you.

Deepest condolences to your family.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sourpuss, I didn't make that assumption; rather, I meant that one must be good in order to ride the trees at speed, and as I said he may well have been out of his depth, or he may have been good enough but got unlucky. No way to know which from the information we have, but ether way, poor guy and his poor family.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

R.I.P. Enrique. Too young to die. I pray for you and your poor wife and daughter.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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