In his words: Canadian Olympian's 'super scary' avalanche experience
A Canadian Olympic skier is sharing his story of being buried in an avalanche in the hopes it will convince others to be prepared for an emergency on the slopes.
Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, who captured a bronze medal in slopestyle in Pyeongchang in 2018, was with friends on fresh powder at Guardsman Pass in Park City, Utah on Feb. 16. He was at the top of a jump when the slope gave way.
“We knew there was a risk because there is always a risk in the mountains. And then it happened, the worst possible outcome for that slope. Almost the whole slope fell down.”
Beaulieu-Marchand’s helmet camera captured the frightening scene as he was swept about 200 metres downhill. He came to rest in a gully, buried under about 30 centimetres of snow.
“I couldn’t move. I was just stuck under the snow, basically,” said the 24-year-old from Quebec City.
The video captures his screams for help and his frantic gasps for breath.
He credits his friends, as well as the rescue gear and safety plan the group had in place, for digging him out a minute later. Now, Beaulieu-Marchand is warning others to be prepared.
Take avalanche courses, know the risks and the terrain you are skiing, and always hit the slopes with people you trust, he says.
“The worst case scenario happened and we were ready for it, so my friends were easily able to save my life. I didn’t feel at any point like I was going to, you know, die out there because I knew my friends were right there. But it definitely was super scary.”
Beaulieu-Marchand has competed at two Olympics. He won bronze in the big air event of the 2019 freestyle skiing world championships on Feb. 2, along with silvers in the slopestyle and big air events at the X Games in January.
Accomplished professional skier or not “Mother Nature is always stronger than you,” said Marchand. “And you don’t ever have enough knowledge.”
According to the Utah Avalanche Center, Beaulieu-Marchand triggered the avalanche when he tumbled over a small cliff. The service said he tumbled as fast as 48 km/h through trees after his fall.