Dan Davidoff, Tribute
Tim Grey | On 25, Sep 2016
On March 14, 2016 mountain sledding lost one of its brightest stars. Already a legend, the Krazy Canadian, Dan Davidoff was known for his wild antics on a snowmobile far and wide. But in the aftermath of the tragedy of his passing, a light has been shone on the off-snow triumphs of a man who was once lost before we found him.
In Dan’s story, we get to see the deeper motivations behind a contagious personality that so often made us go ‘wow!’ For many, Dan is still with us, such was the extent of his passion that his personality still vibrates.
Dan’s passing caused a ripple in the world outside mountain sledding, which isn’t something many snowmobilers do. Dan died from head and neck trauma induced by a collision with a tree while on his sled. The fact that the collision was instigated by a small but powerful mass of snow (an avalanche), while snowmobiling by himself, only magnified the grandeur of his death in the mainstream media. Had the Krazy Canadian gotten too crazy? Well that’s not really how it went down. Was a mistkae made? Yes. But the accident was such that 20 first responders wouldn’t have been able to bring him back. When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go and there isn’t anything that can stop it. The fact that Dan died on a sled is more a testament of how much the man loved sledding than it is an indictment of his actions.
Dan’s death has been an event that has forced mountain sledders, avalanche profesionals and mountain people all over to reflect, re-evaluate and in some circumstances re-calibrate not just their backcountry ambitions but their life’s focus. If the best among us can perish in such a way, how are we to make it through? This reflection requires a deeper look within; an introspection about what’s really important in life. And this is exactly how Dan would have wanted his passing to affect people.
His was an extreme life. From the moment Dan was born he was a wild guy. Throughout his childhood he and his siblings would push things to the limit. Growing up in the beautiful southern Kootenays, the outdoors were always a part of a playful routine. It is here, in these mountain villages, that nature was so exceptionally vivid and Dan was always hooked on the challenges it presented. But things weren’t always perfect for Dan. Although it’s no secret, many may not know that Dan battled and overcame a heroin addiction in his mid-twenties. Long before he was a personality in mountain sledding, Dan had a run-in with the reaper in a way few recover from. It’s this battle that set the tone for the icon we came to know. In the serenity of the BC interior, it’s hard to believe that an inner-city street drug can extend its ability to wreck people’s lives but it happens, more than we want to believe. Dan first tasted opioids while recovering from a broken neck, an injury sustained from diving in a shallow lake. During his treatment he became addicted to killing pain with drugs and passing the time by partying harder and harder. Unbeknownst to Dan was a mental health issue of ADHD that seemed to accelerate his descent into a world of deception and paranoia where nothing but the evaporation of his personality existed.
It was during this time that Dan’s family first prepared themselves to say good bye to him. The recovery rate for people as deep as Dan is roughly 1%. But Dan’s family fought hard to rescue him. On their knees in prayer, in thoughts of love and in physical intervention, the family that Dan was incredibly lucky to have been given, fought hard for their loved one and by grace, a recovery eventually occurred.
If you asked Dan, he’d tell you it was something bigger than heroin that saved him. For him, it was the redemptive power of Jesus’s blood that brought him out of the abyss and kept him sober. It’s a belief that he lived till his dying breath. Ever since Dan’s dark days, there was no doubt about where he stood on the issues of faith and grace. Being diagnosed with ADHD and coming to an awareness of mental health issues also served to help justify the dark days and to avoid more.
The Krazy Canadian was born in the late 1990s. In snowmobiling, Dan Davidoff found his release, a vocation that channeled his extremeness in positive and challenging ways. Dan was a natural fit with the Xtreme Team, a posse of sledders anchored in Washington. Dan would often show the Xtreme Team his honey holes when they visited his area and even though he had a much less powerful machine, Dan would always try the same lines as the other guys with fancy turbos. It was here, when he was often against poor odds, that the magic of the Krazy Canadian happened. Dan started pulling lines and impressing people with his ability to take things to the limit and make it look easy: an ultimate illusionist. It was the late Mark Fry, a filmer, who coined the nickname and it just stuck. Trip after trip, year after year, the Krazy Canadian lived up to his name. Soon the cameras were pointed his way and a career erupted out of the marriage of personality and ability.
Life isn’t fair. It’s not fair that we longer get to see new wild escapades from the Krazy Canadian. It’s not fair that the Davidoff children will have to grow up without their dad. It’s not fair that the media took his death story out of context. But Dan was not one to dwell on the negative. No one gets out of this world alive and few who live get to experience life like Dan. What is left are the memories of man who lived at the limit but also a man who’s genuine and admirable personality who knew that there was enough grace in this world for all, no matter what. In all of his antics, what Dan is most remembered for is how he cared for others. He was interested in other peoples lives and deeply wanted them to avoid the darkness he once knew. He helped others to achieve things they never dreamed possible, like taking adaptive kids sledding and just being there for his friends. He reached out to many to draw awareness to addiction and mental health issues and he exuded personal intrigue to those he interacted with. The Krazy Canadian was a wild and famous sledder known for his stunts, but Dan Davidoff was a caring human, at peace with his surroundings and place in life. And that’s his biggest achievement. He was a good person and that’s a million times more important that being a good sledder.
So here’s to crazy. The good kind of crazy. The best kind of crazy. The kind of Krazy that generates memories that transcend time and space. If we could only all achieve the peace that Dan had, the world would be a much better place. Long shred the righteous wailers.
– Tim Grey