Yukon skier Jean-Marie Mouchet dies at age 96

Northern cross-country ski icon Father Jean-Marie Mouchet has died. He was 96.
Father Jean-Marie Mouchet, pictured here during the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse in 2007, was a dedicated cross country skier and coach. (Courtesy Canada Games Council)

Father Jean-Marie Mouchet is being remembered as an inspiration, who helped shape a generation of leaders.    

The 96 year old catholic priest died in Whitehorse Monday night at the age of 96.

Throughout his life, he was a dedicated cross country skier and coach.

Mouchet was an Oblate priest. He was born in France in 1917 and moved to Yukon in the 1950s.

He started a program called the Territorial Experimental Ski Training, or TEST, to develop character in children through skiing. The program went on to send the first aboriginal Canadian skiers to the Olympics.

“If you looked at a lot of the people that have come through his program and just take a look at what they are doing with their lives, you'll see people who have accomplished a lot of great things,” say Gary Baillie, a graduate of the program himself. “They have become leaders themselves.” Baillie now coaches Kwanlin Dun skiers in Whitehorse.

Philippe Mouchet was with his granduncle when he died this week.

“Healthy, focused and dedicated, true, honest,” is how Philippe describes him. “It really felt like his last ski race or his last run through the woods... he finally let go and surrendered.”

Mouchet continued to ski right up until the end of his life.

Philippe says Mouchet fell earlier this year and ended up in hospital with a concussion.

"At his age it was pretty hard to recover from that, but you know up until last night his mind was quite there," Philippe said. "He passed away knowing what was happening and fully aware of his last journey."

In 1993 Mouchet received the Order of Canada in recognition of his half-century of dedication to the people of the North.

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