I guess I’ll never understand.
I’ll never understand the fatal attraction that goes with snowmobiling in a place where there’s extreme danger of an avalanche, and even worse, courting an avalanche by driving your machine as high up the slope of a hazardous mountain as possible.
Whatever turns your propeller, I suppose. There are a lot of people who look at me as if I should be restrained after I admit I’ve run more than 20 marathons in my weekend warrior career. Those guys who were crushed by the avalanche last week probably thought it was crazy to run 42 kilometres without stopping. And there are times, especially around kilometre No. 40, when I agree with them.
People die in marathons, too. And after someone dies during a marathon, a great debate churns up in its wake: Are these events really good for people? Should they be regulated? And who’s to blame? Same with any kind of risky endeavour, including the Olympic luge event.
I admit my first thought after I heard about the tragic avalanche during the Big Iron Shootout was: Those guys are nuts and a danger to themselves and others. If they can’t think for themselves, the government should step in and think for them.
It doesn’t help that the executive director of the B.C. Snowmobile Federation believes snowmobilers have a right to ignore avalanche warnings and should not therefore be subject to regulation.
Talk about a failure to think: What about the lives of those other Big Iron participants who didn’t feel the need to challenge the slope of Boulder Mountain, but were caught anyway?
What about the search-and-rescue people who risked their lives in the aftermath?
But then I think about the marathon debate and believe I have a right to push my body to the limit and sort of expect someone to catch me when I fall. Same thing. And my response to regulation is the same, too – in the immortal words of Les Austin, the above-mentioned snowmobile exec: “greater education and stuff like that.”
The call for greater regulation and enforcement will be heeded. In fact, it’s already been Kash Heeded — B.C.’s solicitor general says he will bring in a package of policies and regulations in time to spoil the fun for the winter of 2011. Government is always hot to control our lives, and we’re just as hot to have the politicians and bureaucrats step in.
Until it’s our own sport. Then it’s, “Hey, we’ve got a right.”
– Paul Sullivan is a Vancouver-based journalist and owner of Sullivan Media Consulting;