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Locals pay respects to Maxim Arsenault

Celebration of a real 'skier's skier'


A celebration for Whistler skier Maxim Arsenault was held Wednesday, April 27, at the Whistler Conference Centre to pay respects to a man whose heart was as big as the mountains he skied.

"He was super passionate," said Toby Salin, who said he was lucky enough to call Max his friend. "We live in a town of passionate skiers and he was on a different level than most people. He was there in the dark in the morning and didn't leave until it was dark at night and the ski patrol was yelling at him to get off the mountain."

Arsenault, 36, died April 20 near Haines Junction in B.C., after he was swept over a cliff. The big-mountain skier was filming with a production company near Pleasant Camp Recreation site near the B.C.-Yukon border when he went over a nine-metre cliff and landed in a terrain trap.

"He was a real skier's skier," said Salin, who created a Facebook page as a tribute to his friend. "I think that anyone who knew him would say that, too. He was a soul skier, he did it for the love of it.

"He was powerful. Super strong and he looked after his fitness and made sure he was fit enough to do this stuff and he was extremely talented," said Salin.

A coroners' press release said last week that Arsenault and some friends had snowmobiled to the area before he skied down a narrow trail and was swept over a steep embankment.

Members of Arsenault's party located and dug him out, but were unable to resuscitate him.

In an email to Pique, Whistler-based writer Tobias C. Van Veen said, "Max had that unique ability to make you live life at the edge, and to make you a better person for it."

Van Veen said he had the pleasure — and terror — of skiing with Max a few times, and said of one run in a surreal blizzard that Arsenault "never seemed to turn. I could only glimpse his tailwash.

"I'm going to miss Max and his energy and his lack of pretentiousness. He treated everyone with mad respect no matter what their ability, rode with the best, and mostly scared the rest of us shitless," he said.

On the Teton Gravity Research website, MacKenzie Ryan wrote: "I'd known Maxim for three years. He helped me with one of my first pieces for Teton Gravity Research, and he remained as encouraging and lovely as anyone I'd ever encountered."

On Facebook, grief took hold for those whose paths crossed Arsenault's.

Andrew Strain described a 2012 encounter as Arsenault started his ascent when Strain was already halfway up a mountain. "Inconceivable," Strain said as Arsenault soon caught up to the group.

"Shred in peace," Strain posted on his own page.

Low Pressure Podcast described Arsenault as always the most "stoked," and thanked him for his bottomless energy.

The BC Coroners Service and the RCMP are investigating.