QUEENSBURY — Two college ski racers from Castleton University in Vermont were credited with saving the life of a competitor during a ski race at West Mountain earlier this month.
A racer from Babson College suffered a severe leg laceration from the edge of his ski after it broke loose, the cut severing an artery and causing him to lose large amounts of blood quickly.
Castleton skiers Kylie Mackie and Linn Ljungemo were acting as gatekeepers at the point where the racer, Victor Wiaceck of Babson College, went down, and sprang into action immediately upon seeing him crash. Both Spartan skiers are first-aid certified through Castleton’s “e-care class,” and they knew that they had to find a way to stop the bleeding quickly.
Working with Mackie’s father, Kurt, they were able to use a windbreaker and belts as tourniquets to slow the bleeding and wait for assistance from West Mountain Ski Patrol and West Glens Falls Emergency Squad.
Wiaceck was in an ambulance that was headed to Albany Medical Center when on-board emergency personnel made the call to re-route to Saratoga Hospital, as Wiacek sustained continued blood loss and needed stabilization at a closer hospital.
The stop in Saratoga proved to be of the utmost importance, as a team of doctors — with assistance from Kurt Mackie — kept Wiacek conscious until they were able to replace a portion of the lost blood. The ambulance then departed from Saratoga to Albany, where Wiacek underwent successful surgery to stop the bleeding and seal the wound.
Castleton Associate Dean for Athletics and Recreation Deanna Tyson said the students’ actions were credited with saving Wiacek’s life.
“The young man’s father called me and told me that the doctors in Albany said ‘without the swift response on the mountain, Victor wouldn’t have made it,’” Tyson said in a prepared statement. “The actions that were taken by Kylie and Linn can be described as nothing but heroic. These two young women are not just incredible student-athletes but are a part of our Castleton community who were courageous and selfless in a time of desperate need. We are proud that they are part of our Spartan family.”
Mackie, who hails from Cortlandt Manor downstate, and Ljungemo, a native of Sweden, were able to complete their ski runs later that day, despite the traumatic event. Their times helped Castleton win the event.
Wiacek is recovering from the injury.