by Jessica Peters
More than 150 young skiers are on the slopes this weekend at Hemlock Resort, competing in the BC Winter Games.
That’s in addition to the hundreds of visitors each day at the Mission area ski hill.
Keeping the skiers safe is a top priority for organizers, and that task has been placed in the hands of the Canadian Ski Patrol. There are more 4,000 individuals across the country who volunteer to keep the hills safe, including Denis Dion.
He’s acting as the safety coordinator this weekend at Hemlock, managing a dozen volunteers and overseeing skiers’ injuries, spotting potentials for risk, and generally keeping things safe.
On Saturday, 10 ski patrol members were on the mountain – all volunteering their time.
“Everyone is a volunteer here,” Dion said. “It’s what we enjoy doing.”
The Canadian Ski Patrol comprises every walk of life, from businessmen like Dion, to nurses and doctors giving their time to the ski and snowboarding community.
“We really are a broad section of society, but the common trait is we all enjoy giving back to the community,” said Dion. “That’s why we’re here.”
Volunteers don’t just pitch in for special events like the BC Winter Games. They are on the hill every day, ensuring the public can safely enjoy their favourite hills.
When they do have a special event to cover, they work overtime to offer coverage. To help coordinate coverage at Hemlock this weekend, Dion drew on his experience with another well-known competition – the 2010 Olympic Games.
Dion worked from 2003 right through the end of the Games, as a secondary in the medical and security section of the bid book Vancouver and Whistler put forward to secure the Winter Games.
He was working in Whistler through the event, overseeing five different competitions, including ski jump, biathlon and nordic skiing.
The Canadian Ski Patrol is broken up into 61 zones. Dion’s zone includes coverage of Hemlock, Manning and Seymour. They have been operating for more than 70 years, and are always looking for to add dedicated volunteers to their roster.
Dion added that each year, the Canadian Ski Patrol holds a ski and snowboard swap in Abbotsford, the first weekend after Remembrance Day. They aim to make skiing and snowboarding more affordable for local families through that event, he added. Watch for details in the Abby News and Mission Record closer to the event.
For more information, visit www.csp-pcs.com.