Scotty Mann 1972-2011

March 1, 2011 was a very sad day, possibly the saddest that we have had in Surefoot's history. Scotty Mann, our friend and colleague of more than 16 years, tragically passed away in an avalanche in Crans Montana, Switzerland. He was skiing on his favorite mountain, Mont Bonvin, a place that he had skied many times before. He was not reckless or foolish in his actions, always cautious, but a thrill-seeker nevertheless. Scotty was the manager of Surefoot Verbier in Switzerland. He had also worked in Whistler, Vail and Crans Montana since his start with Surefoot 16 years ago. While we know that he died doing something he loved and he was where he wanted to be, it's still a huge loss to Surefoot as well as his friends and family. As Bob Shay said, "They say it's not the destination but the journey, I think he had a good journey. I wish the destination had not come so soon."

Rest in peace, Scotty

Adventure Skier Died Doing What He Loved

By Tony Loraro - Ottawa Citizen

An avid freestyle skier, Scott Mann had twice before come close to dying in avalanches, in ReveIstoke, B.C.and Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

Both times Mann survived, pumped by the adrenalin of skiing down mountains that other skiers often dared not to tread. He loved the speed of a downhill rush and the inherent sense of danger that came with it. Friends say he wasn't reckless or foolish in his actions, always cautious, but a thrill-seeker nevertheless. On March 1, Mann was skiing on his favourite mountain, Mont Bonvin in the Swiss Alps, with his girlfriend, Karolina Ekman. They had comleted a successful first run on the mountain that reaches almost 1,000 metres. It was on the second run that tragedy struck. Mann went down first and was swept away in a cascading avalanche that was 50 metres wide and 700 metres long. He never had a chance.

The 39-year-old former Ottawa resident died on the mountain. Ekman, also an accomplished skier, went down afterwards to Mann. He was alive, but just barely breathing. She was unable to assist him and an air ambulance later transported him to hospital. His parents believe their son was crushed by the weight of the snow and died from internal injuries. Nothing or no one could have ever dissuaded him from attempting to ski down the big mountains in Europe or Canada. His father Tom said his son "lived to ski" and was like a cat with nine lives who always pushed the boundaries of adventure skiing.

"He wasn't happy unless he was skiing," said his sister, Jennifer, also an avid skier. His mother Ivy worried about her son's penchant for skiing on the edge and often pleaded with him to stop.

"Last summer I said to him 'I wish you would stop skiing these horrendous runs because you're going to come home in a body bag'," said Ivy. But Mann was philosophical about his love of adventure skiing, telling his mother "if it's my time, it's my time."

An all-around athlete, Mann enjoyed football, basketball, golf and skiing as a teenager. Born in Ottawa, Mann attended both Brookfield High School and Glebe Collegiate, and then went on to Carleton University, where he obtained a BA in law. But a conventional career held no allure. He moved 16 years ago to Whistler, then Vail and finally Verbier, Switzerland, managing a retail store for Surefoot, an international custom ski boot company.

With Surefoot, he was able to work for about six months of the year and then he was free to ski and travel. "I'm proud of the way he lived," said Ben Healy, a high school friend.

He said Mann was in love with the skiing lifestyle and the large community of skiers who prowl the resorts and hit the slopes .

"It was a hard lifestyle to walk away from, that lifestyle resonated with him. For some of us it is an easy decision to make, but I still have friends in Whistler who still haven't found anything as meaningful as what they managed to find in Whistler. It's just a pleasurable existence," he said.

Another friend from high school, Jay Bond, said Mann loved what he was doing.

"It's a tragedy for sure, but he died doing something that he loved. I would never second-guess that for someone who was prepared and safe about it," said Bond.

"He had a great sense of humour and a great personality. He had zest for life and a wit that was kind of in your face and drew you in right away. He just really, really was funny," said Bond.

Bond said Mann wasn't a daredevil but he did enjoy extreme downhill skiing.

"He obviously loved to continue to do things on the ski hill and I wouldn't say extreme sports, but he liked the exhilaration of conquering something. He definitely had a lot of gumption to try things that other people wouldn't even consider," he said.

"I didn't think he was reckless, it was just something he loved to do and it made him happy"

His mother said she spoke to her son a week before the accident and he said he was thrilled with his new girlfriend.

"He said 'she actually skis better than I do and that is incredible'," said Ivy, adding they had dated for about six months.

She said her son and Karolina planned a trip to Norway for the end of April and had hoped to make a documentary of their ski trip. She said Karolina is still in counseling after seeing Mann die in the avalanche.

A memorial service was held May 28 at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club. Mann's ashes were spread on the mountains in Verbier and Crans, Switzerland, Whistler-Blackcomb, B.C. and Mont Ste. Marie, Que.