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Canadian ski patrol at Smokey Mountain restructured

Patrollers Vince Wall with toboggan and Genevieve Lavoie and Leanne St. Gelais ready to assist.
Patrollers Vince Wall with toboggan and Genevieve Lavoie and Leanne St. Gelais ready to assist. - Submitted

Providing same dedicated professional service

The Canadian ski patrol has undergone a restructuring that will make some changes to the way the organization operates in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The ski patrol In Labrador West was part of the Atlantic East division, but now with the restructuring Canadian Ski Patrol NL is one Zone, which includes Smokey Mountain, the White Hills in Clarenville and Marble Mountain. The ski patrol at Smokey Mountain will also provide patrolling for the Menihek Nordic ski club.

The NL zone has a patrol leader for each of the three ski clubs in the province. Jim Dobbin is the leader at Smokey Mountain.

“There is a lot to becoming a patroller, and we have a very hard working group dedicated to providing service,” Dobbin told the Aurora. “Candidates must go through written and practical exams. They study first aid, CPR and on hill training.”

He said the first aid, for example, is more advanced than basic first aid courses. CSP standards are quite high, he said. Patrollers must pass a test annually.

 This year there are 11 patrollers on the hill and for Menihek Nordic. Six are patrollers who are experienced; they are joined by five new patrollers who joined this year. There are patrollers from Wabush, Labrador City and Fermont. New patrollers must complete sixty hours of training.

Dobbin says they hope to have three patrollers on duty at a time. Patrollers use skis, snowboards and cross country skis. They also are observing the lodge and parking lots while on duty, to ensure safety there as well.

This year’s first duty was during the first cross-country ski races in the NL series, early in December at Menihek Nordic. And since Smokey opened Dec. 16, they will be on the hill every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, and other days the hill is open.

One thing observant skiers and boarders will notice is a change of color of the patrollers hut, and their jackets, which make them easily identifiable.

The new colors of red and white easily stand out.

Dobbin says patrollers have the family of Nelson Valcourt to thank for their new apparel. Valcourt served many years as a patroller on the Nordic trails; he passed away earlier this year. The family asked that donations in lieu be made to the CSP. Arrangements were made to keep the donation in Labrador West, and the funds were used to purchase apparel needed by the patrollers.

“We thank the family from the bottom of our hearts, and wear our jackets proudly in Nelson’s honour,” Dobbin said.

For anybody interested in becoming a patroller, Dobbin says there is an opportunity to join a patroller and spend a day observing what they do.

“Interested persons need only speak a patroller when they see one,” Dobbin says, “and we will take care of the rest.”

Another upcoming event will be in January. The President of CSP NL, Matthew Garvin will travel to Labrador West to provide on hill training so patrollers are qualified to get instructors certification.

“This will eliminate some of the need to travel outside the area for certain training,” said Dobbin.

With almost a winters worth of snow already, Dobbin say patrollers are looking forward to a great and safe season for all.

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