Kelly Davidoff hugs the pillow featuring her late, great brother Danny and says, “I feel his love right now.”
The little sister of the Canadian snowmobiling icon, killed when an avalanche tossed him and his Ski-Doo into a tree two years ago, is smiling and incredibly upbeat.
Her brother is gone, but she says, “I really enjoy talking about him. He’s with me everyday, his presence is so big.”
The cushion, like her brother, is unique. It was a gift from the women in her office using material from Danny’s Telus lineman work clothing. They then placed several family photos on it.
Kelly is sitting in the living room of her Nelson home as she leans forward and continues to talk about “my hero.”
“He died doing what he loved. I know that sounds so cliche, but it’s true,” said Kelly, a Nelson dentist who has felt Danny’s presence everyday since tragedy struck on March 14, 2016.
At the time of his death, Danny was touted by several extreme sports magazines as the only two-time winner of the ‘Xtremey Award’ for best performance in a snowmobile film. He was known as the ‘Krazy Canadian’ for his daredevil riding where he was filmed riding in over-your-head powder, climbing nearly vertical and up impossible chutes in films called ‘Krazy Canadian Adventures.”
It was an “epic powder day” when Dan Davidoff, 45, climbed in his pickup truck and headed out from his Castlegar home to a nearby backcountry area, College Creek, a spot where he’d built a cabin years earlier.
“Danny, who had taken the day off from work, asked a friend to go with him, but he ended up going by himself,” said Kelly.
On the drive up, Dan had a text exchange with his sister, describing his sledding exploits the previous day.
Kelly cherished those last texts with her brother. She had written “My question exactly …did u dig that Dan??” “Yes”, replied Dan. Kelly then wrote “Wow!!! That would burn some calories!” Dan’s response to his sister was, “Kept me warm too.” It was 9:45 a.m.
A short time later Dan sent texts to a friend describing his thrill-seeking moves.
“He was creating little avalanches and riding on them,” said Kelly, adding, “It’s an adrenaline thing. It was the ultimate rush to give him a little thrill and get the blood pumping.”
Kelly, who was working at her dentist’s office that day, didn’t give those exchanges a second thought until later that day. She was told Danny – who was married with two children and two stepchildren – hadn’t picked up his son at daycare in Castlegar at 2 p.m.
Fear grew over Danny’s fate and soon a search was underway. His sled was finally found around midnight and his body was recovered nearby the next morning.
“He’d broken his neck when the avalanche pushed him into a tree,” said Kelly.
Kelly said family, friends and the entire snowmobiling world were in shock after the death of her larger-than-life sibling. His infectious personality was complemented by ’“his wild hair and his unique laugh.”
Kelly, who spoke at her brother’s funeral how she admired his Christian faith said his death turned her into a more spiritual person, recalled for the Star how she looked up to her big brother from a very early age.
As a child she was a often a regular passenger on a sled being driven by her brother, who was four years older.
“I would be holding on for dear life ‘you’re too much weight’ and push me off,” Kelly said laughing, adding her brother always came back to pick her up. She said the only time she knew of her brother driving a sled at regular speed was when he took his young son, Noah, for a ride.
Shortly after his death the family created the Dan Davidoff Legacy Foundation, which provides assistance for a variety of different agencies and non-profit groups that were close to Danny’s heart. The fund assists causes from individual bursaries to charities that support substance abuse and mental health issues.
Kelly said her brother, who had overcome drug addictions, found sledding helped him cope with sleeping issues related to his ADHD.
“Danny found solace and peace; serenity and quiet on the mountain tops. Often when he couldn’t sleep he would fire up the truck and sled and head up the mountain to see the dawn of a new day. He was close to God; the mountains were his heaven on earth.”
“He said it was like ‘living on the edge of glory and destruction.’”