British Columbia

Up-and-coming downhill ski racer dies in Squamish, B.C., mountain bike accident

Mikayla Martin, 22, died riding trails near her home in Squamish, B.C.

Mikayla Martin, 22, was riding trails near the Stawamus Chief Park before crash

Mikayla Martin came in first place at the 2018 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships in Cardrona, New Zealand. (Kevin Light/CBCSports)

A young ski-cross star with a promising future as a racer died following a mountain biking accident near her home in Squamish, B.C., Tuesday.

Mikayla Martin, a member of the Canadian Ski-Cross Team, was 22. 

"We wish to express our most sincere condolences to Christine and James, Mikayla's parents, as well as her entire family and circle of friends," said Vania Grandi, president and CEO of Alpine Canada. "Mikayla embodied a love of skiing and passion for ski-cross that were boundless, and words can't express how sorely she'll be missed."

According to an emailed statement from Squamish RCMP, the incident occurred in the early evening as Martin was riding with a male partner along the Slhaney Trail system behind Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. After locating the pair, Squamish Search and Rescue tried to save Martin, but were unsuccessful. 

Mikayla Martin and her father James Martin photographed in 2018 for the CBC/Petro-Canada Bond series on aspiring athletes. (Kevin Light/CBCSports)

The RCMP are investigating the accident.

"The death of Mikayla is a huge loss for the community of Squamish and an immense loss for her family and friends, and our thoughts are with them" said Sgt. Sascha Banks.

"It can't be stressed more that adventuring in Squamish comes with inherent risks," Banks said.

"We can only ask that you take that one more risk assessment, one more second to check the geographics, one more look at your equipment, and one more conversation about what the plan is. We all want people to live doing what they love."

A longtime skier, Martin grew up racing alpine with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club before moving on to competitive ski-cross in 2017. She quickly made a name for herself, joining the national team the same year.

"Miki will always be remembered for her incredible smile, infectious enthusiasm, determination, work ethic and of course her role as a mentor to so many young [Whistler Mountain Ski Club] athletes," said club executive director Mark Tilston in a statement. 

Martin, right, practises for the women's ski-cross event at the freestyle ski and snowboard world championships against Sami Kennedy-Sim of Australia in Solitude, Utah, last February. (The Associated Press)

Ski-cross became a medal sport for the first time in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It features four to six competitors racing downhill against each other on a course that includes jumps and banks. 

In 2018, Martin became the FIS Junior World Champion in Cardrona, New Zealand. She placed sixth, a personal best, at the 2018 FIS World Cup in Innichen, Italy. 

Marielle Thompson, a fellow national ski-cross team member and training mate who also came out of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, wrote in an email, "I was shocked and completely taken off guard when I heard the news and still don't really know what to say.... I'm absolutely heartbroken for her family."

"We were just training at the gym [Tuesday] in Whistler," said Thompson, who won a gold medal in ski-cross at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. "Mikayla was so full of energy and eager to learn. It was cool to see her make such progress last year in her first season of World Cup."

Martin during a training jump in 2018. (Kevin Light/CBCSports)

Alpine Canada also issued a statement saying: "Mikayla's parents said she loved her ski-cross family and would have wanted the team to continue with their training, stay positive and ski fast."