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Burnaby snowboarder dies on Whistler Mountain

Rider hit boulder in area currently marked out of bounds



A 17-year-old snowboarder from Burnaby died on Whistler Mountain on Monday, the Whistler RCMP said Tuesday morning.

The incident occurred at around 3:20 p.m. Dec. 22. RCMP were called about a serious injury after a rider struck a large boulder in a closed area.

Staff Sergeant Steve Leclair with the Whistler RCMP said the snowboarder, who has not been identified pending approval from his family, was riding near the confluence of the Marmot and Lower Rat Fink runs, about a “three minute skiing time” from the top of the Emerald Chair.

“Normally they are within the ski area boundary, however due to the snow conditions they were designated beyond boundary,” he said.

Leclair said it was an unwitnessed event, but it’s believed that a short amount of time passed between the snowboarder’s friends realizing he wasn’t at the bottom of the hill and his being located by a passerby.

Ski patrollers arrived on scene and tried to revive him but they were unsuccessful. He died shortly after hitting the boulder.

Christina Moore, a spokeswoman for Whistler Blackcomb, said the snowboarder’s death has “affected everybody” at Whistler Blackcomb.

“The fact of the matter is people push their limits,” she said. “What looks good, doesn’t necessarily mean it is good.”

Moore also said that early season conditions are still in effect due to a low snowpack, and that patrollers on Whistler and Blackcomb are working “extremely hard” to mark dangerous areas as out of bounds.

“We can certainly assure guests that the ski resort is safe for guests to ski within the boundary,” she said. “That is what we work on and the reason why the runs are boundarized is because the areas outside the boundaries are not safe to ski at this point in time.”

An RCMP news release said that while “numerous other persons” had entered the area where the rider died, that people should enjoy the ski area “responsibly” and heed all signs posted for guests’ safety.

“Unmarked rocks and obstacles can be encountered at this time due to the snow conditions,” Leclair said.

This is the fourth recorded death on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains this year. There were three deaths on the mountains in the 2007/2008 season.

A 35-year-old Italian snowboarder died last March while riding in a backcountry area close to Blackcomb Mountain.

Earlier that month, Japanese snowboarder Ai Ito went missing after last being seen on the 7th Heaven chairlift. Her body was found in a basin beneath the 7th Heaven run on Blackcomb in early April.

Curtis Green died on Jan. 1, 2008 on Whistler Mountain. He and a companion entered a permanently closed area near the West Bowl and triggered an avalanche. They were both swept over a 150-foot cliff band. The companion sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries.