People
November 2nd, 2021
Share

Ep. 3 – Darren Berrecloth’s Winter Wingman

With the help of social media, the winter powersports world abounds with athletes and personalities who are constantly in the eye of the public. But what we don’t always see is the support system of these well-known riders—riding in the backcountry is not a solo sport after all. These snowmobiling celebrities have people they rely on to ride with and support them every step of the way.

These are the untold stories of the Winter Wingman.


Darren Berrecloth is best known for his Red Bull Rampage big mountain freeride performances on a mountain bike, but he has also taken to riding snow bikes in the offseason to fuel the adrenaline junkie within.

“Winter is the perfect time to hone my skills in what used to be the off-season and actually push my mental limits to keep them strong. I see dealing with fear and pushing boundaries as a muscle, and the more that a person can exercise that muscle, the stronger they will become,” says Berrecloth.

He was a die-hard snowmobiler for 20+ years first, but when an opportunity came for him to jump on a snow bike, he didn’t hesitate.

“As soon as I wrapped my leg over one and gave her a ‘braaap’, I was instantly hooked.”

Winter Wingman – Darren Berrecloth

As a professional athlete, Berrecloth places a lot of value on the unsung wingmen. When I asked him who his winter wingman is, he immediately said “Sawchuck!”

“He’s a like-minded redneck who loves going headfirst into a deep, dark drainage and without knowing if there is an exit. As sledders we all know different types of riders—some people steer clear of those situations while others are 110 % game for adventure. Sawchuck is always game.”

While it might sound like these guys are sending it into ravines any chance they get, Berrecloth assured me that they put each other’s safety first.

“When we ride at the level that we do, we have to have a strong riding crew that collectively makes good decisions while adventuring in the backcountry.”

Allan Sawchuck, Rider and Photographer

For the last five years, Allan Sawchuck has been spending most of his winters shredding and snapping photos in the mountains. In 2020 he decided to take his passion a step further and dedicated his entire winter to photography.

Photographer, Allan Sawchuck

“Sawchuck has the powder bug and just like so many of us, he can’t shake the itch to shred pow while pursuing his photography dream,” describes Berrecloth.

In describing Sawchuck’s skill set, Berrecloth points out that he “is one of the few photographers who is a rider first. With a natural rider mentality, he has the ability to scope features while the artist in him visualizes the shot. He is the ultimate winter wingman. He finds the feature, sets it up and then hands it off to another rider to get the glory while he gets the shot—the ‘collective agreement’.”

Sawchuck is no slouch behind the bars of a sled.

When I asked Berrecloth to pick a favourite photo that Sawchuck has taken of him, he said, “It has to be the black and white pow carve. That shot really captures the feeling of snow biking.

“Snow biking is very similar to skiing and riding on rails with very minimal effort as I am leaning in towards a corner as hard as I can and just hucking it. This photo is the essence of snow biking.”

Darren Berrecloth Winter Wingman Allan Sawchuck_-6

The Importance of the Winter Wingman

On the importance of having strong winter wingmen, Berrecloth describes Sawchuck as “an excellent winter wingman because he is a very strong sledder, super down for adventure and reliable when trouble arises. Much like his camera, he always carries his avy gear and knows how to use it if a real emergency hits.”

“Always have a wingman, and even if you are in a big group stick to the buddy system—time and time again it has saved lives or avoided a cluster of a day.”

Darren Berrecloth Winter Wingman Allan Sawchuck_-7

Final advice from Berrecloth?

“Find the crew that shreds hard, understands your riding style and gets the shots!”

 

– Brooke

 

Check out our other “Winter Wingman” episodes,  Ep. I – Gabrielle Hockley and Ep. II – Brock Hoyer here!