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Tawatinaw Ski Patrol brings home prestigious award

Members win Canadian Ski Patrol Mountain Division FAST competition
WES - ski patrol 20220409_211250
Tawatinaw Valley Canadian Ski Patrol members Val Bessette, Ashlyn Latreille, Alexa Biro, Lori Latreille and Courtney Muller claimed gold in the first-aid portion of the 2022 Mountain Division First Aid and On Snow Training (FAST) event held April 9 at Marmot Basin.

WESTLOCK – Against 11 rival teams from resorts like Sunshine and Lake Louise, the Tawatinaw Valley Canadian Ski Patrol rose to the top and claimed gold in the first-aid portion of the 2022 Mountain Division First Aid and On Snow Training (FAST) event.

Hosted at Marmot Basin April 8-9, the event started with on-hill training sessions on the Friday, then the FAST events (first aid portion in the morning and the race portion in the afternoon) on Day 2 — Tawatinaw patrol leader Lori Latreille said the five-member team included herself, Courtney Muller, Val Bessette, Ashlyn Latreille and Alexa Biro.

In their run to gold in the first-aid competition, it was the job of Lori, who counts eight years on the ski patrol, along with Ashlyn and Biro, who both have two years of experience, to get a patient loaded into the toboggan and then down an ungroomed black-diamond run. Muller, a 13-year patrol vet, acted at the group’s evaluator, while Bessette, who’s been on the patrol for six years, was the patient who, in the scenario, had a broken pelvis and a broken collarbone.

“We were apprehensive to compete because it’s been a long time and the three of us that were actually competing have never done it before,” said Lori. “It was the first time pulling a toboggan on an ungroomed black (diamond) run in the mountains, so it was pretty overwhelming because if you screw up that’s going to end up in a real injury.

“We were surprised we got the gold medal. We did well, but there are other people there who were very well qualified.”

Lori said while they’re “pretty proud” of the trophy — a plaque is now hanging in their ski patrol room at Tawatinaw — the result serves as an “affirmation” for the group. As an aside, Tawatinaw ski patrol members aren’t paid and are strictly volunteers.

“I think that’s the important takeaway for everyone that use our little hill. These are qualified, well-trained people who are taking care of you if something happens,” said Lori. “Volunteerism is really important to me. My children and my family have benefited a lot from having the ski hill there so this is one way we can give back.”

George Blais,