Teen skiers mourned: two skiers killed in avalanche remembered
OLYMPIC VALLEY – It’s estimated that over a thousand friends and family turned out for Brendan Allan and Bryan Richmond’s memorial at the Resort at Squaw Creek Tuesday night.
Born only a day apart, Brendan and Bryan, both 17, died Feb. 21 only feet away from each other after they were buried under 5 to 6 feet of snow on the backside of Squaw Valley USA’s KT-22 peak.
“I had no clue that these guys had this kind of impact on this community,” said Gary Allan, Brendan’s father, as he looked over the standing-room-only crowd in disbelief.
At the service, their families chose to show a video of the two competing for the fastest time as they raced for the finish, both rounding gates and in seemingly perfect form.
“They both loved life and they were both overly excited about skiing,” said Allan.
As Allan spoke he mentioned his son’s passion for skiing and love for powder but warned others of the dangers in back country skiing.
“Things change when you leave the ski area boundary,” said Allan.
Allan issued a word of caution to those that wish to venture into the back country.
“To the youth out there – it’s good to think twice,” Allan said.
After friends and family finished talking about Brendan one thing was for sure: he will be missed.
“Brendan and Bryan were two of the most incredible people I have ever met,” said Heather Allan, Brendan’s sister.
Bryan will also be missed, according to friends. Bryan was known for his love for skiing, talent in art and his easy-going and engaging nature among his friends, teachers and coaches.
He was a senior at Tahoe-Truckee High School when he died.
“He was a very engaging person,” TTHS government teacher Patti McCaffrey said. “He had kind of a wisdom beyond his years. He had a great energy as a person and he emanated that energy in the room.”
According to TTHS art and drama teacher Merri McKee, Bryan was an “art kid” and last year could often be found with close friends in the art room or woodshop with his friend Cean Watson or teacher Kevin Coleman when he wasn’t on the slopes.
“His idea of partying was to go out and ski powder,” McKee said. “He was a really talented artist. He could find perfection in drawing like he could on his skis in a powder run … He lived for skiing. During ski season, you didn’t see him so much.”
Cean Watson, who graduated from Tahoe Truckee High School last year and currently attends the Maine College of Art, ski raced with Bryan and kept in close contact with him even after he left for college. He was home for the services this week and was stunned by the sudden and unexpected death of his friend.
“We met on the bus sophomore year,” Watson said. “I was the weird kid on the bus and he was the one who had to sit with me.”
Between hanging out in the art room and rushing off to the slopes to ski, the two were often together.
“He was an excellent racer,” Cean said. “He was a very good skier, which is why it’s so strange.”
“I talked to him a couple of weeks ago,” Cean said. “We talked about college, about girls … It’s so weird.”
Already the death of these two has inspired others.
Tyler Buschman, a friend of the two, is currently skateboarding across America in an attempt to break a world record. The last time Buschman contacted the Tahoe World he was ready to give up. Cold nights and close calls with vehicles were almost too much for Buschman, but after hearing of the tragedy he sent this E-mail message to the Sierra Sun:
“I have decided to make it into the Big Apple after all … I am skating these last miles for my late friends Brendan Allen and Brian Richmond. What a tragedy, I am shocked and stunned, life isn’t fair,” wrote Buschman.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: The Brendan Allan and Bryan Richmond Memorial Junior Ski Racing Fund, P.O. Box 7755, Tahoe City, CA 96145
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