Japanese snowboarder dies on Whistler Mountain 

By Clare Ogilvie and Adam Daff

A 22-year-old Japanese male snowboarder died on Whistler Mountain Wednesday.

His name had not been released at press time pending notification of the next of kin.

Whistler Mountain spokesman Christopher Nicolson said patrollers and a doctor responded immediately to the site of the accident in Harmony Bowl at 10:30 a.m.

"The location was about half way down the Harmony Chair on the skiers left," said Nicolson.

"The person was pronounced dead at the scene."

The area was investigated the day of the accident as there is a roped off area nearby.

"Around that area there is a closed area on the mountain and patrol did go up and review that area and all the signs and ropes were intact," said Nicolson.

"We are not certain where the snowboarder went down the mountain but at some point he did impact with some rocks."

Local skier Simon Riordan saw the victim lying in the snow to the side of the Harmony Express chairlift.

"It just looked like he’d crashed into this big boulder," Riordan said.

"There were a few (guide) posts near the top of the run but there was only a small drop around there (the boulder).

"I wouldn’t have gone down it because it was really small; it just didn’t look like any fun."

Riordan said he first saw the accident around 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

"The rock he hit wasn’t near a cornice or a drop, it seemed like it was in a pretty clear area," he said.

"I don’t know how he would have gone into it unless he just got out of control and smashed into it."

Riordan said he saw large amounts of blood all over the rock when he skied past the accident site later in the day.

"We’ve just heard that he died and that’s shocking; I’m really surprised by that.’’

Although it is still unclear if the snowboarder did enter a closed area Nicolson reiterated a warning the mountains have been issuing all year: Skiers and boarders should stay out of closed areas.

"Irregardless of this actual incident areas are roped off and closed for a reason and despite the fresh snow at the scene, closed areas are closed areas," said Nicolson.

It is not clear if the victim was boarding with anybody and others in the area were questioned to find out more.

"There were others in the area who saw what was happening but there is a bit of a language barrier as some of the other people there were Japanese speaking, as we believe this person was," said Nicolson.

It’s not clear if the snowboarder was living in Whistler but it seems likely as he had a season pass and had gone up the mountains over 40 times since the season started.

"We send our condolences to the family," said Nicoloson.

"It is certainly a very, very unfortunate incident and Whistler-Blackcomb’s thoughts are definitely with them."


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