SILENT ASSASSINS: The Man in the Black Pyjamas
A frickin’ lazer beam of sunlight shoots through the clouds and lights up a classic line in the Blackcomb backcountry.
We’re still in the clouds on the opposing ridge, balls blue from an unsuccessful day of high alpine window shopping.
But then we see him across the way, The Man in the Black Pyjamas, lining himself up with the lazer beam at the top of Mount Decker’s Middle Finger.
“In skiing we call it ‘The Touch’,” explains local shred-dog-photographer Andrew Bradley. “Not everyone has it, but Dommer definitely does.”
He’s talking about Dominic Melanson, a Moncton-raised Acadian who’s called Whistler home for the last 16 years.
Patient, smooth and confident. Dommer made a name for himself through the 2000’s, winning the occasional freeski event, stamping his name on a few local features and gracing the pages of our favourite magazines.
“Greasy,” says longtime ski partner Matty Richard when asked to describe Dom’s ski style. “Like a smooth can of bacon grease.”
The Man in the Black Pyjamas, dropping into the sliver of light.
He arcs four high speed turns above the crux, racing the mass of snow rocketing towards the pinch of the funnel.
The stakes are high but the victor is clear.
“You know that feeling when you’re sitting on the couch after a good day skiing?” asks Dommer.”You feel like you’ve earned it.”
Back in 2005, Dommer was skiing a piece of forbidden fruit within the Whistler Blackcomb boundary.
He was well after sweep, but ski patrol was waiting below with a nice sharp pair of pass-cutting scissors.
He’s been on the shit list a few other times as well, with season-long bans barring him from his beloved resort.
But somehow during those dark and desperate times, The Man in the Black Pyjamas was still able to rack up over 100 days in the Sea to Sky mountains.
“I’ve got too much on the line to do anything like that again. Basically Bob Lynch told me that if I get caught again I won’t be able to buy a pass. So I just keep it in the pants until I get to the backcountry.”
Partially blinded by a series of four crippling face shots, Dommer locks into the fall line and blasts through the crux mere seconds before his slough detonates behind him like crashing surf from an overhead bomb.
Clouds obscure the terrain around him. But the light holds strong on his line through the Middle Finger.
“I love weekends,” Dommer says to me after I curse the crowds on the mountain one day. “That’s when I get to ski.”
He’s put living-the-dream on hold for the last few years, opting to work towards becoming a journeyman Sprinkler Fitter. He still shreds whenever he gets the chance. But it ain’t always easy.
“There’s only so many powder days in your life,” says Dom. “To miss out on one of them puts another grey hair in my beard.”
With the crux safely behind him, Dommer sets up for the remaining part of his line, an apron of untouched pow lit up by the only proper window of light that we’ve seen all day.
He finds the rhythm of the fall line, transforming into a backlit vapour of billowing smoke and sinking into a faceshot full of lefts and rights that doesn’t stop until he hits the flats.
“When I’m on my deathbed I’m not gonna say I wish I worked more,” says Dommer. “I’m gonna wish I skied more.”
He alludes to comeback of sorts, sometime between 2018 and 2019.
La Revanche de Dominic, or something like that.
In the meantime, he’s just silently slaying it whenever he can.
But you can’t have Instagram on a flip phone, so unless you see Dommer flashing tasty lines from the next ridge over, you won’t even know that he’s there.
Do you know of any Silent Assassins worthy of a write-up? Shredders who make their marks in the the shadows?
Let us know and we’ll see if we can’t track ’em down.