AST 2020 Athlete Journal: Claire Timmermann

On October 2nd I was told to go to the Alpine Canada website by a good friend of mine. I was confused cause this friend doesn’t ever not tell me things straight up. I was thinking what funny photo is it now? But without hesitation I went to their website. As soon as I did, I called her. All I said was “I’m shaking.” She replied “I know”. We were on the phone for about 20 minutes, not one more word was said.

I was paralyzed when I read the news. A shiver took over my body and I felt cold. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t move.

“Mikayla [Martin] passed away on the evening of October 1 following a mountain bike accident while at home in Squamish, BC.”

That is what I read.

I think one of the hardest parts of that day was staring at her photo and still being able to hear her distinctive, contagious, lively laugh that could heal a broken soul. It didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel fair. It didn’t feel right.

And it still doesn’t.

Over the past week, I have had a lot of time to think. A lot of time to think about Miki. With that, comes emotions and I’ve been struggling quite a bit with it. I am doing my best at trying to put thoughts into words, so I thought maybe I could share some of those with you.

I didn’t grow up with Miki. I wasn’t her teammate or a life long friend. I grew up in the province over hearing her name constantly through my older sister and the ski circuit. I finally got to put a name to face my first year FIS, when I was racing with Banff Alpine Racers and she was on the BC ski team.

I watched “Introducing the 2016/2017 BC Ski Team” a few too many times that year, to the point where I was able to quote the entire clip. In fact, that was where I got the idea for my athlete journal where I introduced the AST when I made the team the following year. I remember one of the questions in BC’s video was “what are you known for?”. And from my memory, Mikayla’s answer was “Sendin’ it”.

And the more I got to know her, the more I realized how true that was.

At the end of Mikayla’s final alpine year before she made the jump to ski cross, there was a speed camp in Panorama that I was invited to. Of course Miki was there, she loved SPEED!!! I looked up to her and the older girls who had more experience on the long boards. I was a newborn to speed. Did I love it? Yes. Was I comfortable with it? No, not really. But being able to have someone like Miki to help me and push me in those couple days, to feel a little more steady with speed, was incredible. She was so encouraging but in such a supportive way that didn’t feel forced. It wasn’t just in what she said but in how she did things. How she made things look so easy. When you’re surrounded by a girl with so much energy, you begin to feed off of it. And for me, energy brings me confidence. And confidence is something I need to be able to overcome fear.

Let’s take that first day of speed camp for example. I was so nervous. If I recall correctly, I was wearing snow pants and a big puffy jacket so I wouldn’t go too fast too quickly. I was gonna ease into it. But then I look over and watched this girl strip to full suit run 1, point her skis down the hill without hesitation and just fly with such control. I was in awe of her talent and fearlessness. It seemed as if she had no fear in life, no fear in failure, no fear in being unapologetically herself. She didn’t wait for the world to come at her, she came at the world with every ounce of her presence. THAT quality of Miki’s has tattooed itself onto me and is what comes to mind when I think of her.

I got to know Mikayla and her laugh a lot more that trip. And I’m so lucky I did.

Her absence has left a hole in quite a lot of people. She was a light in this world. A life lover. An avid travel bug. A happy human. And it’s hard to understand why someone who loved and lived life that much only got 22 years. I don’t think I will ever understand. I guess I’ll have to live with that even if I’m not okay with it. But despite it only being for a few years, I am so grateful and honoured to have known her.

I get sucked into reading about her anywhere I can. Reading all these stories about her and how she impacted everyone she met. There has been such an outpour of emotion and support this past week from everyone, even people that didn’t know her. I think it is evident her impact on this world and this community; she was something special.

There is a gofundme page that has been created by the Martin family in “intention to fund a scholarship to give to another promising young athlete who displays those same qualities of passion and exuberance and dedication and friendship and camaraderie” that Mikayla embodied. Their goal was $10,000 but they have already almost quadrupled that goal in less than 5 days. It is inspiring. If you are interested in contributing to turning Mikayla’s life into a legacy, I will attach the link to her gofundme at the end of this passage. Even if you don’t donate, I encourage you to go look at the messages and comments that her family have written on the page.

And this is why —

I never thought knowing how it happened would bring me any closure. I thought it would make it that much more painful. That much more heart breaking. I was quite timid on whether I should read the details or just let it be. But I did. Ollie, the friend she was riding with, told his story on what happened that day. From start to finish. It took me a while to get through it but when I did, I was shedding tears of what felt like comfort. It was healing to hear. How happy she was, as she always was, and what a good day she had. It is what I needed. So thank you Ollie for being so brave in telling your story. I push you to go read his story on the gofundme page at your own pace.

Yes, I’ve been struggling quite a bit. But I know that’s not how she would have wanted it to be. She would want me to be all in— “to do my thing, do it every day and do it unapologetically”. So that’s what I am going to do.

Thank you for being you Mikayla. You’ve been an inspiration to more than you think.

And with that, it is finally beginning to feel real.

Rest easy Miki. We will be living like you down here.

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page


In memory of Mikayla Martin
January 8, 1997 – October 1, 2019