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Burnaby snowboarder dies on Whistler Mountain



A 17-year-old snowboarder from Burnaby died on Whistler Mountain on Dec. 22.

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

Staff Sergeant Steve Leclair with the Whistler RCMP said the snowboarder 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 Daigle’s friends realizing he wasn’t at the bottom of the hill and his location by a passerby.

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

Leclair did not confirm where he hit the rock, but said he endured a “blunt force trauma” to his upper body area.

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.

Peter Jean, Safety Supervisor for Whistler Blackcomb, said there’s often an “overexuberance” among skiers and snowboarders when they see new snow on the mountains.

“I think that’s a behavioural pattern, something that we get when we see fresh snow,” he said. “Unfortunately I think people see new snow but they haven’t really put all the different pieces of a fairly complex natural world together.

“Yes, new snow, (but) what’s it covering? Are there creeks out there still? Are there rocks out there still?”

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