That’s longer than the 1,100 kilometres between Whistler and Edmonton, and is the equivalent of stacking the CN Tower on top of itself 2,300 times.
It’s also the number of vertical feet Whistler’s Pierre Marc Jette has skied this season, breaking the previous record for a calendar year. What’s more is the Quebec native did it in just four months.
Jette was welcomed by a crowd of well-wishers at the base of Whistler Mountain on a wet and chilly Saturday morning, March 14, as he officially passed the Guinness World Record — all in the name of Alzheimer’s research.
“It’s extremely rewarding and that’s just one part of the adventure,” said a relieved Jette after skiing the Lower Olympic run into the village. “The skiing is fun, that’s my passion, so I’m having fun with this, but this is really to raise my profile so people know you can do anything you want.
"Right now what I really want is to make sure that people hear the message that we have to do something and raise some money for the Alzheimer’s Society of BC so we can find a cure.”
Jette came up with the idea for his fundraising project as a way to connect with his family living on the other side of the country. The debilitating disease took his aunt several years ago and Jette also has an uncle currently struggling with symptoms. He ultimately hopes to raise over $400,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society of BC, and has raised just over $8,000 so far.
“We couldn’t do the work we do without volunteers like Pierre. He’s taken advantage of a program we offer called Anything for Alzheimer’s, and boy, his 'anything' was big,” said Michele Buchignani, chair of the Alzheimer’s Society of BC. “We look for a day when Alzheimer’s is a curable disease and not an incurable fatal disease, which is what it is today, so what Pierre is doing is very much allowing us to deliver on our promise of help for today and hope for tomorrow.”
Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden was also on-hand Saturday to witness Jette’s record-breaking feat, and spoke to the support he’s received from the resort, which includes donated gear from Skiis & Biikes, food from Nesters Market, and promotional support from Whistler Blackcomb and Toad Hall Studios.
“We’re used to welcoming people from all over the world and we're a very close-knit community. So, when someone does something like this, an athletic endeavour for a good cause, … the community gets behind him,” she said.
An ex-gymnast, Jette said his training, as well as regular meditation and a healthy diet, has helped keep him in shape for the 84 long days he spent on the mountain this season.
He’s usually the first person loading at Creekside in the morning, and often takes the last chair down in the afternoon. On his best day, Jette skied just shy of 90,000 vertical feet, equal to skiing 18 times from the top of the mountain down to the valley.
“I could’ve skied more if the lifts had stayed open,” he said.
Jette will have to be in top form if he plans to double the record he just shattered by November. Originally he intended to end his ski season in May, but with the support of friend and filmmaker Mike Gamble, who wants to premiere a documentary on Jette in the fall, the 55-year-old plans to head to South America in the summer to keep skiing. A Kickstarter will be launched in the coming months to help fund his trip.
Also, on Monday, March 16, Creekbread will host an event celebrating Jette’s record from 5 to 9 p.m. The festivities include live music by Some Assembly Required and a silent auction, with proceeds going to Alzheimer’s research.
Visit www.anythingforalzheimers.ca/remember-I-ski-for-alzheimers for more information or to donate to Jette’s efforts.
Check back with Pique on Sunday, March 15 for a video of Jette's accomplishment.
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