Quebec Olympians’ mask-less photo in B.C. ski town raises eyebrows

Click to play video: 'Two former Olympians under fire for Red Mountain visit' Two former Olympians under fire for Red Mountain visit
A pair of former Canadian Olympians is at the centre of a new COVID-19 controversy over an Instagram photo appearing to show the two skiers in clear violation of provincial health orders at a B.C. mountain. Paul Johnson reports – Feb 19, 2021

An apparent recent visit to British Columbia by a pair of high-profile Canadian skiers is raising eyebrows, amid public health advisories not to travel during COVID-19.

A photo recently posted to Instagram from Rossland, B.C., home to Red Mountain, appears to show former Olympians Alexandre Bilodeau and Jean Luc Brassard doing “apres ski,” sharing a table with two other men and without masks.

Read more: COVID-19 transmission slowing in Whistler with 614 cases recorded in 2021

Bilodeau posted a video to his own Instagram account on Friday, tagging a heli-ski operation in Castlegar.

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Bilodeau, known for his charity work, was the first Canadian to win a gold medal on home soil at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Brassard took home his own gold at the 1994 games in Lillehammer.

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Both skiers are from Quebec.

Global News has requested comment from Bilodeau’s spokesperson. It was also unclear whether the two Quebeckers had a reason other than a holiday to travel to B.C.

“In this photograph, there are people who are from out of province, and they are visitors to our community with a local person, they are friends, they are sitting in a restaurant with their masks off,” Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore told Global News.

“It’s not the image we want to see, it’s not the message we want to send — people are supposed to only go to restaurants with their family group, they’re not supposed to go with a group of friends.”

Click to play video: 'Confusion persists over travel outside your B.C. community' Confusion persists over travel outside your B.C. community
Confusion persists over travel outside your B.C. community – Jan 31, 2021

Moore said her community does not have the power to keep visitors out, but that they are trying to strongly discourage people from travelling.

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That’s a tough challenge for a community that’s home to a well-regarded ski hill, she said.

Read more: Majority of Canadians call for inter-provincial travel ban: survey

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix addressed the incident Friday, saying he didn’t think British Columbians would follow the example.

“I’m sure many people in British Columbia, when they see that and they see other incidents such as that … it makes all the people following the rules really frustrated,” Dix said.

“I don’t see evidence that people look at a picture like that and they say, oh, well, I should not follow the rules. I should not keep my loved ones healthy.”

Moore told Global News she hopes that’s the case, adding that Rossland wants its holidaymakers back — just not right now.

“It’s hard,” she said.

“Because we want to have visitors and we will welcome visitors back when the time is right, but this just isn’t that time.”

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