The young Campbell River man killed in a tragic skiing accident at Whistler-Blackcomb on Saturday “found joy when skiing” and was hailed as an “emerging leader” with the Mount Washington Ski Club (MWSC).
“The Mt. Washington Ski Club is a tight knit group of families and we are all grieving together at this time of loss,” a statement from the club says. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to Cole’s mum and dad, Michele and Terry, who are committed club volunteers, and his sister Nicola, who is a former ski racer and club coach, and their family. While it is hard to comprehend the loss of Cole, we take solace that he was doing something he loved to do with people who cared for him, and we shall cherish his memory. He was a fine young man who was looking forward to all that the world had to offer after he graduated from high school this year.
“He was loved and will be greatly missed.”
Anderson was part of a ski-racing group that was visiting Whistler-Blackcomb for a weekend of training and free-skiing, BC Coroners Service spokesperson Barb McLintock said.
“At about 3 p.m. on March 21, Mr. Anderson, who is described as being an expert skier, was skiing in an in-bounds area on Blackcomb when he went over a cliff about seven metres high, landing on an area covered with very little snow. He was deceased at the scene,” she said.
Anderson was free skiing with his teammates and coach after a day of ski race training at the Dave Murray National Training Centre on Whistler Mountain. They had just completed a challenging run on Blackcomb and were on their last run when he slipped and fell over a cliff.
He was skiing on terrain that was well within his capabilities when the accident occurred.
His teammates reached him quickly and their coach, a trained paramedic, took control of the situation and immediately called for ski patrol who arrived within a few minutes.
Despite their best efforts, Anderson succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
Anderson had been a member of the Mt. Washington Ski Club for over 10 years and was a committed ski racer, representing his club provincially and nationally.
“He was a talented athlete who found joy when skiing,” the MWSC statement says. “He loved to spend time with his teammates, and liked nothing better than carving turns on the race course or in fresh powder.
“He was also an emerging leader and the younger club athletes looked up to him for his skill, ready smile and easy going manner.”
Head Coach John Trimmer said, “He was a tremendous teammate who was loved by all. Cole was an outstanding young man, a leader and role model for our younger racers and he will be greatly missed.Cole has been skiing since he was two, he was a great skier and winner of several awards.
“We would like to thank the community for the love and support they have shown to the family and our club.”
Bruce Goldsmid, BC Alpine Ski Association CEO said, “We are shocked and saddened by this tragic accident. On behalf of the alpine ski racing community, our thoughts are with the Anderson family and the Mt. Washington Ski Club. The ski racing community in British Columbia is like a family and we are all devastated by this loss.”
The impact of Anderson’s death was felt in School District 72 as well. Anderson was a student at Timberline School.
“Everyone in School District 72 and the Timberline school community were saddened to learn of Cole’s passing and we express our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and loved ones,” Superintendent Tom Longridge. “Cole was an accomplished athlete, a good student, and a kind-hearted young man who will be deeply missed by those who knew him.
“Our focus now is on supporting Cole’s family and friends and the Timberline school community through this difficult time. The district’s critical incident team has been deployed and counsellors are at the school to support students and staff in their grief.”
Shane Harle, former Campbell River teacher and founder of the Podium of Life Ski Academy which began on Mount Washington but moved recently to Whistler, said academy members knew Anderson well.
His son Teal, an academy member, was a teammate of Anderson’s for 12 years.
“We spent the evening counselling the (Mount Washington) team, as many were my past students,” Harle said.
The BC Coroners Service and the RCMP are investigating the death.