“A Change in Saddle” | A Squaw Valley Skier’s Migration to Kicking Horse, B.C.

Andrew Marshall |
Kicking Horse, B.C.
Kicking Horse, B.C.  photo:  andrew marshall

In 1858, while exploring potential routes for the Canadian Pacific Railway, geologist Jimmy Hector lost control of his horse and was kicked unconscious. With several failed attempts at recovery by his companions, Hector was presumed dead. The details are not clear, but sometime later, while being carried to his grave, Hector miraculously rose to life and regained consciousness. He eventually pioneered a route that still exists today as a major transportation corridor and with as much creativity as he could muster, he named it after the surly stallion that nearly took his life – Kicking Horse.

Wide open spaces.
Wide open spaces.  photo:   andrew marshall

This past fall Squaw Valley skier, Dan Scarcia, was kicked by the same metaphysical horse as old Jimmy Hector and he too survived. Fortunately he did not find himself next to his grave, but instead next to a high-speed gondola at the base of the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Again, details are not clear, but it is certain The Horse did deffer him from everything but skiing for more than a few months.

Accessing endless backcountry terrain with over 4000 feet of vertical drop, Kicking Horse is an off-piste dream come true. A rugged, somewhat remote setting is it’s blessing and it’s curse, making for a scene (or lack thereof) not found at many ski areas. The Horse also requires one to work for their turns and such a calamity is obviously not for the faint of heart.

Dan Scarcia on the move at KH
Dan Scarcia on the move at KH.  photo:  andrew marshall

Dan has been skiing some of the toughest lines at Squaw since 1997 and might be best remembered in the Unofficial realm from such feature films as: One Minute of Squaw Valley Awesomeness and Chimney Master or from such fine local establisments as Lè Chamois and El Cornice Cantiña.

Beyond shredding his home mountain, Dan has left tracks in Chile and Argentina and skiied with some of the best at Points North Heli-Adventures in Alaska. Now after experiencing Canada in 2012 and the full blown kick in 2013 (read: slope-side ski lease), his skills and experience are showing more than ever.

KH terrain gets the nod
KH terrain gets the nod.  photo:  andrew marshall

The equestrian embroilment is slowly becoming a memory, but Dan’s pale complextion still shows evidence of significant time spent in the Canadian saddle. Lucky for him, Tahoe’s sunny skies should provide a nice contrast to the cold, cloudy demeanor of The Horse. And just like old Jimmy Hector, you can bet he’ll be pioneering more ‘transportation’ corridors again next season.

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