Finishing second and loving it
Mercredi places second in national airfield maintenance technician competition

Darren Campbell
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 18/98) - The old saying goes that nobody ever remembers who finished second in anything.

Not so, if you are Curtis Mercredi that is. The 30-year-old airfield maintenance technician at the Yellowknife airport recently came in second at a national competition.

Mercredi finished second in a National Airfield Maintenance Technician Rodeo in Winnipeg that was held Aug. 17-21. He was honoured for his accomplishment by the Northwest Territories Department of Transportation on Wednesday.

And just what kind of a rodeo is this? Mercredi said it isn't that complicated.

"It's something like a standard rodeo but instead of having cowboys and horses you get airport workers and equipment going around obstacle courses," said Mercredi.

Essentially the rodeo required the 15 competitors from airports across Canada to run equipment through an obstacle course. The course was designed to resemble situations they would run into while doing their job. The three pieces of equipment Mercredi had to use were a snowplough, snowblower, and trucksweeper.

Doing well at the event comes down to one thing though: don't run into anything and finish the course faster than anyone else.

Mercredi, who has been with the airport since 1987, said he was a bit surprised to do so well at the event. He said the trick to doing well in Winnipeg was being sharper than his opponents.

"If you weren't as hungover as everyone else, you do pretty well," joked Mercredi.

All kidding aside, Mercredi said going to the competition will help him do his job better. He said it gave him a chance to meet other airport maintenance technicians, talk shop with them, and exchange ideas.

"There are little things you can pick up on," said Mercredi. "Things they do that you don't know about and things you know that they don't."

Jim Winsor, director of Arctic airports for the NWT, said these maintenance rodeos might be fun but they are good for professional development as well.

"It gives them the feeling that they have a very important job," said Winsor. "It makes them think, 'I have to be professional, a lot of people depend on me and I have to do a good job.'"

Mercredi said he plans on competing at next year's rodeo as well. He said the goal next year is to win it all.

"I've got to get first in everything next year," said Mercredi. "Then I will hang them up."