Out of the Blue | Caroline Duchene | Presented by Schrader’s
By Jensen Amyotte
Name: Caroline Duchene
Date of Birth: Dec 7th, 1990
Hometown: Westlock, AB
Occupation: For six months of the year, I’m in Alberta where my fiancé (Brandon) and I own and run a custom silaging operation. For the remaining six months, we’re in Revelstoke, BC, where I drive truck, hauling snow and gravel!
Who got you into the sport?
My amazing fiancé, Brandon! When we first started dating, him and his buddies would go on sledding trips to the mountains and he would tell me all about the great times and show me beautiful photos from the mountain tops. I told him that I wanted to experience all of these rad moments and the mountains in a way most people don’t ever get to. He is always so supportive so he got me my first sled right away, a 2011 Polaris Pro RMK 155”. He introduced me to this amazing sport, and I fell in love immediately!
After my first season of sledding, with us making many trips to BC, we decided to just move to BC so we were able to sled all of the time! We came to Revelstoke to sled once and knew that this beautiful, little mountain town was the place we wanted to call our home in the winters. This is now our third winter here and loving every minute of it!
When not on a dirt bike or sled, how do you keep yourself busy?
I have a very busy work schedule in the summer, but when I am able to get a couple days off in a row, I head to the mountains to go adventuring with me bestie, Eliisa! Every summer we hike up a different mountain and stay overnight, it’s kind of a tradition now even though it’s usually the night before. Haha. When I’m in Revy, if I’m not working I’m probably sledding, but if I’m not sledding I’m probably hiking or going on some sort of adventure to somewhere!
Who is your all-time favourite rider?
I have been watching Chris Burandt videos even before I started sledding so definitely him and Caleb Kesterke. They are both EPIC tree riders and absolutely throw it down in the back country! I love riding in the trees, it’s where I spend most of my time and it’s definitely my main focus and the side of my riding I’m always working on improving.
I love watching these guys ride, their techniques, skills and just how smooth and confident they are. I really try to put what I learn from watching them into my riding.
Between riding on dirt, in the woods and also the snow, which do you feel you excel at the most and why?
It’s really hard for me to dirt bike consistently since my summers are just so busy; I usually only get a few rides in each spring. So, I would definitely say sledding is my main focus and the area I excel in.
This is my fourth season sledding, the first year was pretty much just an introduction to riding in the mountains, and we only did about five trips that year. This is my third winter living in Revy and really really sledding, getting 40+ days in! This winter is looking like I should get over 50 days in, which I’m so incredibly proud of!
Is there an event you look forward to most every year?
Every year I’m so excited for when Brandon and I just finish wrapping up all of our jobs back in Alberta for the year (about the end of October) and we’re starting to pack up and prepare for the next six months in Revy. The sleds are pulled out of the trailer, looked over, making sure they’re good to go for that first day there’s enough snow up top to head up for the first rip of the season!
Who has been your biggest inspiration/hero on and off the mountain?
I have two of the most amazing best friends that inspire me in so many ways, Brandon (my fiancé) and Eliisa. We spend a lot of time together on and off the mountain. I’m so grateful to have them by my side; they’re always teaching me new things and really just make me a better person. They also make me laugh to the point where I either can’t breathe or I’m about to pee my pants. Haha
Brandon: He’s the most resourceful person I know and nothing seems to ever phase him. He always just knows what to do when things are broken, or which direction to go if it’s a complete whiteout. I’ve seen him diagnose and fix things in the middle of nowhere with pretty much just a stick and a roll of electrical tape! Hahaha. He’s calm, yet goofy, and faces challenges head on; he’s taught me just go for it, to never second guess myself and to never back down. I’ve had the honour of watching him grow as a person and as a rider, navigating technical terrain and becoming the rock-solid rider he is today. I also, not so secretly, hope his skills are slowly rubbing off on me! Haha
Eliisa: Her dedication and positivity are the strongest I’ve ever seen in anyone. She is incredibly in tune with what her body needs as an athlete, from exercising to giver her optimal results to eating the foods that give her the best nutrients. She is also always pushing her limits, we ride together most of the time, so I see her continually eyeing up more technical terrain and just going for it! I find that incredibly inspiring and she pushes me to push harder and be better without even knowing it.
Tell us about your 2020 season and your plans for 2021.
Last season I primarily focused on seat time. Since I do live in the epicentre of sledding in the winter, I ride at any available moment. This year I am being a little more specific and have set some specific goals. I am comfortable on my sled now and want to take my riding to the next level. A bow tie is definitely on my list!
What are your biggest accomplishments to date?
Becoming a strong rider in the trees is something I have aspired to be and lately I really feel like I am getting smoother in there, making more aggressive line choices. My confidence is building with jumps and drops too – put something in front of me and I will usually smash it. I don’t want to necessarily be good at any one thing, but to be more well-rounded.
What is the biggest lesson that being involved in motorsports has taught you so far?
That women are so under-appreciated. There are a ton of women out in the backcountry everyday dedicated to this sport and just killing it (like Savanna Rennie and Morgann Lynn!). But unfortunately, I’ve witnessed quite a bit of stereotyping and people assuming women can’t shred. I’ve learned that we just need to stand up tall and prove them all wrong, show them how to really shed with our own unique style.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years? Good question. I hope by that point being on my sled is second nature. Right now, I have a strong side and weak side but my goal is to be equally comfortable on either. I hope I get to meet a lot of people in that time and enjoy diverse riding groups. Go on some sled trips and explore a ton more terrain – adventure motivates me a lot. One thing for sure, I know I will be just as obsessed – if not more – than I am now!
Are there any sponsors or people you would like to thank?
I’m always so thankful for Brandon, for getting me into this amazing sport and for relentlessly pushing me to become a better rider. Because of him a lot of things do not scare me or make me nervous; he’s happy to take me out of my comfort zone into wild terrain and just tells me I need to figure it out because he knows I can do it, and somehow, I always survive. Hahaha. But if I am having trouble, he always circles back to make sure I’m ok, or if I’m not sure how I’m going to do something he’ll park right bedside me and walk me through it. He is my rock.
And I’m super thankful he’s just as crazy as I am and jumped at the chance to live in Revy every winter so we could sled and live in the beautiful BC mountains!
I am also so thankful for the most amazing best friend ever, Eliisa! We are always going places, exploring and supporting each other along the way. I know no matter what situation she will always have my back and be the support I need. We ride together all of the time; we’re always pushing into new terrain and growing our abilities. If I’m ever having a bad day, she is there for me and if I do something new that I’m stoked about she is the one who screams in excitement with me!
Last but not least, I’m so excited and so grateful to be riding with TOBE this winter. I love their gear and they are such a rad, down to earth company. As well, I’m so stoked to be an ambassador for Highmark by Snowpulse Airbags this season! These companies are top of the line and their gear makes me feel so comfortable, warm and safe in the backcountry.