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Blackcomb patrollers top of the mountains

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The Blackcomb Boys team ran away with last week’s North American Ski Patrol Challenge for the second year in a row, earning 44 points in four patrol-related events on March 27. The Whistler Patrol team tied for second with Big White. Each had 34 points.

Before last year, the Whistler patrollers had won the event two years in a row, which just goes to show that practice – a steady stream of injuries, and constant avalanche prevention – makes perfect.

A dozen patrol teams took part in this annual competition. Teams are given between one and 12 points at the end of each event based on the rank in which they finished.

In the Ridge Hike Relay, in which team members take turns lugging a fake bomb across a stretch of rugged alpine terrain, up to the Blowhole and down Ladies’ Choice, the Steven’s Pass 2 team took the lead and 12 points. The team from Crystal Mountain in Washington was second, earning 11 points, and the Blackcomb Boys third with 10.

The Speed Packaging event went to the team from Big White, which stabilized their neck injury patient in two minutes and 16 seconds to gain the 12 points. The actually finished in 2:01, but had 15 seconds of penalty time tacked on for errors.

The team from Silver Star was second by a second, but would have finished in first without an added 20 seconds.

The Blackcomb Boys were third once again in 2:37, earning another 10 points.

In the Toboggan Cross event, teams completed a relay course down through the bumps and turns in the snowboard cross course in the Terrain Park. The combined time determined the winner.

The Blackcomb team, which has spent some time in the course, finished first in 3:03 and earned another 12 points. Big White was second in 3:09, and Steven’s Pass third in 3:18.

The final event, where teams work together to locate two buried avalanche tranceivers, also went to the Blackcomb Boys. They pinned down both receivers three minutes faster than Whistler, which was the next fastest team. Stevens Pass 1 finished third.

Crystal Mountain finished fourth overall, Stevens Pass 1 and 2 were fifth and sixth, Silver Star was seventh, the Blackcomb girls were eighth, Cypress Mountain and Grouse tied for ninth, Sun Valley was 11th, and the Steven’s Pass girls finished 12 th .

For winning, the Blackcomb Boys took home a pair of skis owned by legendary patroller Hugh Smythe, who grew up to become president of Intrawest’s Resort Operations group. But the real goal of the competition is to promote teamwork, professionalism, mountain safety and training.

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