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Yukon Zone ski patrol named best in Canada

Skiers, snowboarders and biathletes are in good hands when they hit the slopes and trails in the Whitehorse area, says the Canadian Ski Patrol.

Skiers, snowboarders and biathletes are in good hands when they hit the slopes and trails in the Whitehorse area, says the Canadian Ski Patrol.

Yukon Zone ski patrol was given the Outstanding Zone Award at the Canadian Ski Patrol’s national annual conference last Friday in Edmonton, Alta.

“I was pleasantly surprised when they announced Yukon Zone won,” said Yukon Zone president Tim Sellars. “I know we have some of the best patrollers and commitment in the country, but I was still surprised.”

Yukon Zone beat out 58 other zone jurisdictions from across Canada for the award. It’s Yukon’s third time winning it, having pocketed the prestigious award in 2000 and 2008.

“It’s teamwork. It’s contributions above and beyond from everybody on the team,” said Sellars. “I think there’s something about Yukoners striving to be the best.”

The Yukon Zone, which is based in Whitehorse, is one of two in the territory with the Watson Lake Zone being the other.

Yukon Zone is made up of 40 volunteer ski patrollers. There are about 15 volunteer patrols in Watson Lake and 5,000 across Canada.

The majority of the patrollers’ time is spent on the slopes of Mount Sima and the cross-country trails at Mount McIntyre, but they also patrol Biathlon Yukon events on Grey Mountain and a number of loppet races around Whitehorse.

During the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon Zone patrollers also helped with dog mushing and snowshoe events in addition to alpine, biathlon and cross-country events.

“Most dog mushing events we don’t help out with, but the Arctic Winter Games are special and we definitely pulled together for that,” said Sellars.

Yukon Zone gained further recognition through hosting the 2013 Mountain Division First Aid Competition and has established a partnership with the Yukon Avalanche Association to raise avalanche awareness.

At Mount Sima Yukon Zone has also developed a pair of safety programs, one of which includes awarding skiers and snowboarders a numeric code that could win them prizes after demonstrating safe practices, such as wearing a helmet, on the slopes.

The responsibilities of the patrollers don’t end when ski season does. Members of Yukon Zone will provide first aid services at the Atlin Music Fest, Klondike Road Relay and Yukon River Trail Marathon this summer.

In addition to the zone award, two Yukoners were recognized for their skills and dedication. Kristina Gardner and Richard Malvasio were given National Appreciation Awards for their years of hard work.

Gardner is the patrol leader for the “Nordic patrollers” at Mount McIntyre.

“She’s a hard worker and a motivational patroller,” said Sellars.

Malvasio, who has three decades of patrolling under his belt, spends most of her patrolling time at Sima but helps out with cross-country as well.

“He’s a long-time patroller who continues to be very active and puts in a lot of time and effort,” said Sellars. “He’s a good role model for other patrollers.

“Training people on their (rescue) tobogganing skills is what he’s really well known for.”

Those interested in giving time to make Whitehorse’s slopes and trails safer are asked to visit

“We are always looking for more ski patrollers,” said Sellars. “With the great season Mount Sima had this year, there were a lot more skiers and riders out, and that meant a need for more patrollers. So we’ll be looking for patrollers in late September and early October to go through a training course.”

Contact Tom Patrick at