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Duncan MacKenzie: "No bad days"

Long time Whistler patroller never stopped smiling



There are many who will miss Duncan MacKenzie; his unrelenting positive attitude towards life, his duty to make those around him safe, the big smile that never seemed to leave his face.

It has been a long week of mourning for his family and friends.

MacKenzie, who grew up in Langley, B.C. and first moved to Whistler at 19 years old with the dream of becoming a ski patroller, was killed in an avalanche Dec. 29 in the backcountry off the Duffey Lake Road.

It took just a couple of years of proving himself as a volunteer before he made full time ski patrol and dazzled his new coworkers with his unparalleled enthusiasm.

"There was never any mission he wasn't up for," said Shawn Beaudoin in a Facebook Post. He worked with MacKenzie on patrol for 10 years. "When Duncan first started with the Whistler Patrol, he quickly developed a reputation as the new guy who was way too stoked. (He) quickly developed into one of our strongest and most trusted patrollers. Duncan and I have been on a lot of rescues together over the years, and he was a guy you could trust with your life. He was a true professional who could be counted on in any situation.

"If you ever needed your broken ass dragged out of the woods, winter or summer, Duncan was the guy you wanted coming to help you."

It was during his bike park patrolling days he found his passion for trail building, spending many hours of his own time digging in the woods on Whistler Mountain. He was soon contracted by Bike Park Manager Brian Finestone to carry out regular trail work in areas like the Khyber descent trail.

"His work ethic always blew me away," said Finestone.

"He was a one man army with a shovel and a mattock. You'd come back in two hours and there would be a trail there. He was so big and powerful, whatever it was he would never say no. Whether it was moving that big rock or hump this big load of bamboo, he never complained. I don't think I ever heard a negative word out of the guy's mouth."

MacKenzie's summer passion for trail building was only matched by his energy on a mountain bike. When racing cross-country, however much others were suffering, Duncan would always keep his positive outlook.

"I remember shooting photos of one of the Samurai (Singletracks) and everybody had the look like they were on the edge of vomiting and dying," said Finestone.

"Duncan comes by riding basically what was a downhill bike with a big smile on his face and giving the people standing on the sides words of encouragement. That was Duncan, there were no bad days."

MacKenzie was killed after being swept into trees by a class two avalanche in the Caspar Creek area off the Duffey Lake Road near Pemberton. He was skiing with three friends that day, one whom had turned back after problems with his skins. His other two companions were carefully watching MacKenzie as he performed a ski cut on the slope, the snow released as he was readjusting for his second ski cut.

His companions skied to help him, with one heading out to get help as soon as it was discovered how serious his injuries were. Another stayed by his friend's side until search and rescue got there many hours later. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A memorial will be held on Friday, Jan. 6 at the Whistler Conference Centre, starting at 6 p.m.