In Profile: The Sharpe Family
The Sharpe family, Don and Chantal and their children, Doug, Cassie and Darcy, has been a mainstay on Mount Washington for the past 15 years. So it seems fitting that 2015 was a pinnacle year for all members of the family.
Don Sharpe joined Mount Washington Alpine Resort 15 years ago from Calgary. He is now Director of Business Operations at Mount Washington. Chantal is a flight attendant with WestJet and is on the road, or should we say in the air, three to five days at a time. Despite their busy schedules they have had the opportunity to see all three of their children thrive in an alpine environment.
“They grew up on the mountain,” says Don of the kids. Doug is now 24, Cassie is 23 and Darcy is 19. Don and Chantal have spent almost half of their 28-year marriage living in the Comox Valley. Although the kids are travelling all over the world now, they still consider Comox and Mount Washington Alpine Resort as their home base.
Doug Sharpe graduated from Selkirk College’s Ski Resort Operations and Management Program. He was a “shop rat” at Mount Washington for 10 years, hanging out at Mountain Tek, snowboarding and mountain biking. While at Selkirk Doug participated in a work experience program with a ski resort in China, helping them manage the rental shop among other tasks. He now lives in Beijing, China, working with Yibu Snow Parks, which will play a part in the 2022 Winter Olympics at Chongli County near Beijing. “They build mountain bike trails, terrain parks and work on jumps for snowboard and bike industries,” says Don. Doug has appeared as a stunt double in a mountain biking film and speaks some Mandarin.
Cassie Sharpe is a fully carded Canadian Freestyle and Halfpipe Skier. “Last year was her breakout year,” says Don. “Last year she made the National Development Team, where her coaches took her to the next level. At the end of last year she was winning World Cups.”
She came second in the World Championships in Austria in Halfpipe Skiing. “To have the kind of year she did was outstanding. It was amazing to see her get the recognition she deserved.” (Cassie has already started 2015-16 on a good note, earning a spot on the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team after spending two months training in New Zealand.)
Darcy Sharpe was a member of the Canadian Snowboard Team for Slopestyle and Big Air. He won the Big Air World Cup last year in Quebec, a discipline that has now been added to the Winter Olympics. Darcy also came second in the World Championships in Slopestyle in Big Air. He also spent time this summer training in New Zealand before flying to Australia in August to compete in an event called Mile High, which he won. “He’s basically going to be in and out of Asia four times this winter: Beijing, Japan and Seoul, and into Europe a couple of times,” says Don. Darcy was also featured in three Mark McMorris movies filmed last year and debuted in the fall: In Motion, Shredbots and Peace Park.
“Both kids (Cassie and Darcy) are hoping to get X Games invitations this winter. Who knows what’s going to happen in 2018, but it would be amazing if both kids made it to the Olympics in South Korea.”
Last year Chantal Sharpe walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain by herself, completing her route in 28 days, walking 30 - 45 kilometres per day. “It’s a pilgrimage. She really enjoyed it,” says Don. To prepare for her trip she walked hundreds of kilometres around the Comox Valley. “She loves to walk; that’s her time and she gets in her zone.”
Don Sharpe spent part of his summer as second in command of Team BC at the Western Canada Summer Games in Fort McMurray, Altberta, in August. “They were some very, very long days,” he said. “It was very rewarding. The team we put together took care of the people and athletes. It was a great experience, one I will look back on with fondness.” Being in charge of a summer event dovetailed nicely with his winter-focused job, and it’s something he would like to again someday.
As one can see, the Sharpes are a busy family. “At one point last winter our family was in four different countries: Austria, Beijing, Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles, Calif. and Toronto, Ont.,” Don said. However, that doesn’t prevent them from being a tightknit clan.
“Every chance we get where the kids will let us go to their competitions we go,” he said. They watched Cassie compete at a World Cup in Calgary where she podiumed. Don drove Darcy to Wyoming while the teen was filming Peace Park and spent four days on set. “We love to watch them live.” When Chantal was in Spain hiking the Camino, Don was able to join her for the final leg of her walk. And Doug and Darcy were connected through their passion for snowsports when Darcy was invited to a competition in China in early December. He was to compete using a jump that Doug built.