Blog


Posted by on April 20th, 2012

My time in Europe gave me a much-needed reprieve from my normal winter routine.

The purpose of the trip was to unite the Mountain Collective Team at Salomon’s headquarters in France to share ideas and look at how we can continue developing both the sport of skiing and the equipment we use.

It’s the first trip I’ve ever made to participate in product research and development for a company, and hopefully, it won’t be the last.

We spent the first two days at Salomon’s office in Annecy learning about what works well and what needs improving. We spent the remainder of the week in La Clusaz testing next season’s new products. I was amazed at how much goes into the development of products. It was awesome to see how everything works together so a rider can achieve optimal performance.

French Alps

A personal highlight was having the chance to ski and hang out with so many riders I’ve admired my entire career and share ideas on how to challenge the mountains and equipment I ride on. New dreams surfaced for me. I’m stoked!

The wealth of knowledge I was exposed to, and Salomon’s willingness to customize equipment has really inspired me. It makes me want to play and explore the mountains even more!

After a tip-top week, including the odd wine and cheese and après-ski, I flew to Montreal for the Canadian Alpine Championships. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. The warm weather forced the organizers to cancel the event due to lack of snow.  I took advantage of the break to explore the city for a few days before heading home.

Upon my return, I was treated to a few memorable events. Silver Star, in partnership with Oakley and the Camp of Champions in Whistler, B.C, set up a massive air bag so the local kids could get their freak-on in a safe way. Check out this short video.

Silver Star Airbag

Straight off the mountain, I made my way into town to be part of the Rick Hansen Relay. It was a great honour to support this event. I’m able to live the life that I do thanks to Rick and his work. He’s been fighting to create a world without barriers for the past 25 years. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Rick.

Rick Hansen Relay

This week, I had a chance to hang out at a local elementary school. When I have some time off, one of the things I enjoy most is meeting with kids, telling them my story and learning about theirs. I hope I got them stoked up on life and living their dreams. In return, they rewarded me with many great questions and observations that have helped me reflect on my own journey.

Close Talk

For more pics and in-depth stories about my adventures, ‘”like” my Facebook page. I’ll share more soon. In the meantime, thanks for reading and please keep coming back!


Posted by on March 30th, 2012

March has flown by. So far, it’s consisted of racing, more racing, and living out of my suitcase.

It started with the North American World Cup in Winter Park, Colorado. This is one of my favourite hills on the circuit, and I was feeling like I had a bit of an advantage over the European and Japanese racers, having raced there many times over the years. The first races of the week were doubleheader Super Gs, in which I finished eighth and fourth respectively — not too bad, but the truth is I was hoping to finish on the podium.

The next two days were giant slalom (GS) races, which, unfortunately, went sour fast. I’m not really a good GS skier on the best of days — yet, I skied especially poorly.

I had a super tough start. First, the snow was really aggressive. But it went downhill from there, literally. I was eons off pace which was quite discouraging. The last race of the series was the slalom. From what I remember, I was pretty good at slalom the last time I raced in the World Cup. This time around, I finished my first run and felt good about it, only to realize I was in ninth place and way off pace. Nonetheless, I did improve my second run and moved up to sixth overall for the day.

It was a real eye-opener to see the level at which everyone else was racing. For me, to come in mid-season with high hopes was like trying to run a car hard on a cold winter’s day. But Colorado was far from being a bust; I left feeling inspired and motivated to bring my best to the World Cup finals in Panorama, B.C.

The momentum had started building up for me in Winter Park, where I was getting charged up for Panorama. I love being back home in the Kootenays and feel so at peace in the mountains there. I came out strong and won the first Super G event of the week. I was close to winning the second one when I hit a nasty bump and lost traction, which sent me off course.

IPC Super G  - Grounded

The next event was the Super Combined, which started with a Super G in the morning (in which I finished fourth) and then the slalom in the afternoon (which I completely blew and finished ninth overall, combined time). The final day of the World Cup finals was the slalom. I was motivated to do my best, and I did.

IPC World Cup Super G - Airborne

IPC World Cup Finals - Slalom

In the first run, I was in fourth position and in striking distance of winning. I started off my second run feeling smooth and aggressive through the tight turns and bumps, when, out of nowhere, I blew my ski off!  I was furious, and perplexed by how this could have happened, and so disappointed to be disqualified from the race.

I put my ski back on and raged down the rest of the course (it was the best I’ve ever skied slalom, hands down); but it cost me dearly. I was fined for continuing down the track after being disqualified and had to pay for my unsportsmanlike behaviour. Not only did I pay the fine, but I apologized to everyone for my actions (and I tell you, it was money well spent as I needed to blow off my frustration in a constructive way).

This whole experience has reminded me of how much I enjoy the action of ski racing — the pure beauty of flying down the mountain while trying to balance on that fine line of skilled control and insanity.

Just on the perimeter of that line, just beyond your comfort zone, is where the magic lies — where you’re free to explore your potential. Racing is also a game of attrition; you need to be wise with how you push boundaries and expand your experience. But, like any job or pursuit to be the best you can be, safety must always come first.

After a tight few weeks of World Cup races, filled with some magnificent moments and hard lessons, I wrapped up the season ranking third overall in the World Cup Super G standings. It was a super nice cherry on top of an already amazing winter!

World Cup Finals - On The Podium

Less than 24 hours after the race, I found myself in a nice little Euro chalet, on the slopes of La Clusaz, with the Salomon Freeski Team. It’s dumping outside and I’m sitting fireside, eating cheese and drinking wine.

LIFE IS GOOD.


Posted by on March 13th, 2012

The month of February was one for the books. So good in fact we needed an extra day just to fit it all in!  :)

As most of you probably already know, on February 3, I executed a picture-perfect back flip — it was huge in so many ways.

The accomplishment sits very high in my personal books as it’s been a long-standing goal and a task that created a great deal of fear. In my opinion, the fear generated by the thought of even performing the back flip was very important to overcome. I’ve learned to live with my physical paralysis but to be paralyzed by fear is no way to live at all.

Most people have looked at this feat as groundbreaking, amazing, and simply awesome. There are, however, a few people that think I’m just crazy. Some people seem to think I have a death wish or that attempting the back flip was a completely unnecessary risk to be taking. Allow me a moment to disagree with the naysayers . . .

The back flip was a personal quest. I not only wanted but needed to overcome deep-rooted demons that have been haunting me since that fateful moment that changed my life nearly eight years ago — it involved an internal struggle of ego versus intuition.

On paper the flip seemed a simple and in fact a relatively safe endeavor. The reality was I have never been so scared in my entire life. From my first launch into the foam pits at Woodward at Copper Mountain to the air bag at Blackcomb, I was sweating and stressing about bringing the flip onto snow. I kept questioning myself. “Why would I do this? Am I prepared for the consequences?”

Over time, the answer became clear — the back flip was a perfect opportunity to expand on what’s possible and to test my instincts in a clutch environment. You see, when I bailed on the front flip years back, I went against every stich of good judgment — I let my inexperience and ego guide me off that jump.

I’ve learned from my mistakes and speak to my experiences all the time. When “Project Back Flip” started coming to fruition it became more than about going upside down — it became the ultimate arena to test my ability to let my intuition guide me.

When the day came to bring it to snow the fear had all but melted away completely. With a team of jump experts, safety personnel, and a few good folks to capture the day and take care of all the details, I was left with simply focusing on the task at hand. Here’s a good perspective of the day from my friends at Skier Magazine.

Lacey and I in Los Angeles to meet none other than Ellen DeGeneres.

The weeks that followed went off as the whole world seemed to take interest in this project. I had a chance to catch up with Ellen DeGeneres (believe it or not meeting Ellen was very high on my list of things to do/people to meet). I also made an appearance on Urban Rush, where I talked about some of the safety issues around preparing for the back flip. For a recap of the stories and interviews from the past few weeks please check out my Athlete Page on Facebook.

 

You just never know who you’ll run into in Hollywood!

In the midst of the media storm I was also juggling my schedule with Alpine Canada. We had a race series in Kimberley consisting of two downhill races and two Super G races — to say it was a good week would be an understatement. I was able to use all the positive momentum generated by the flip to my advantage and win three of the four races. The race that did not go super well was a result of hitting a huge divot on the track, which ejected me rather quickly from the course.

After the races in Kimberley I shifted gears and did a presentation in Toronto and Vancouver.

In Toronto I spoke with staff at Maple Leaf Foods, a great group of people that make up one the top companies in Canada. I am still feeling humbled and inspired from my time with them. If you don’t know about Maple Leaf here’s a little piece that to me defines their integrity and leadership abilities that set a new standard.

Vancouver was a school visit speaking on behalf of WorkSafeBC, educating and empowering the students about workplace safety via the lessons learned and experiences gained in my lifetime. Sharing with school kids is a true highlight!

My new skid lid – state of the art and a thing of beauty.

I finished out the month with a little work on my sit ski with my buddy Rob Mulder to get myself ready for the upcoming World Cup races in Colorado and the World Cup Finals in Panorama this month . . . look for my next post after the races.


Posted by on February 15th, 2012

Holy Dyna! The start of 2012 has been a blitzkrieg of awesomeness . . .

By now though you’ve probably heard the great news — you know, I’ve had this dream since I was first laid up in the hospital nearly eight years ago to do a backflip in my sit ski. With countless hours of training and preparation and with help from a group of good friends (professional skiers) who prepped the jump site for me, I was able to realize my dream on February 3rd — I nailed a backflip at Whistler!

The process to bring the flip to snow began awhile back in the foam pits at Woodward at Copper Mountain. I met up with Nick Bass — who’s a very accomplished aerialist and jumping coach — and it was then we both knew it could be done.

The next stop was the terrain park at Blackcomb to practice this trick into an airbag. Our practice and preparation paid off huge. We figured out the best jump shape, speed, and all the other details we thought were important. I really wanted to take this into the backcountry and try it on snow right away, but Mother Nature did not allow. Conditions were snowy, windy, and foggy, which made it too dangerous to try. We had to put the project on hold.

Next, it was off to the X Games down in Aspen. This trip is probably my favourite competition all winter. I love being right in the mix with all the other sports and athletes — watching everyone throw down is so inspirational and gets me super charged up.

They toned down the Skier Cross course this year to make sure everyone was going to be able to go fast and put on a good show for TV — and that’s exactly what happened. It was probably the best finals heat our sport has ever showcased. I’m so happy for my good friend Samson who took home the gold . . . and for me, a bronze finish is a mighty fine accomplishment.

Josh Dueck X Games

Huge air in the Mono Skier X Final. That’s me at the top right.

Another highlight was getting to attend the Powder Video Awards. I’d just found out before heading to the party that “Freedom Chair” had been nominated for best documentary. We gave it no chance of winning considering the other films we were up against. Imagine our surprise when they announced our film . . . we were completely stunned.

Lacey and Josh

Lacey and me at the PVA award ceremony.

Then it was back home to catch up on some routine business. I was home for less than 48 hours when the crew from Switchback Entertainment called and said the weather in Whistler was going to be sunny, and that Powder Mountain Catskiing was willing to build me a perfect jump to attempt the backflip.

I knew it was the right time and place to overcome my fear and do something awesome. Coming down the approach I felt a sense of calm and confidence. I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story . . .

Josh Dueck becomes the first person to execute a back flip on a sit ski

All of the elements were in place. It took a lot of training and preparation to get to this moment.

Nailing the back flip was such a great feeling — total freedom!

The response to the video has been insane. It’s all good — for the sport and for anyone desiring to overcome challenges and obstacles in their life. This could also open up a new avenue for the sport, which would be great.

In racing . . . my 2012 season began with a quick trip to Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, for the U.S. Para-Alpine Championships. I had a chance to test myself against the best riders in North America and it went pretty well — in four races I earned four silver medals. There was pretty much a new winner every day, which was nice to see. For me, I kept making little mistakes, which kept me in the hunt but out of the top spot. It left me hungry for the next set of races in mid-February.

Canadian Para-alpine Ski team

Showing off the results of all our hard work – members of the Canadian Para-alpine Ski Team racked up 12 podiums at Waterville.

I’m off to LA to have a little chat with Ellen. The episode with my segment airs Wednesday, February 15. Then I’m straight back into racing on Thursday at my old stomping grounds in Kimberley B.C. Here’s some footage from last year’s race.

Enjoy the moments in life and see y’all back here soon. Thanks for reading…


Posted by on January 17th, 2012

Happy NEW YEAR! I hope that everyone was able to enjoy life’s simple pleasures over the holidays, and taste a bit of the magic that comes along with the festivities.

Since I last dropped in on ye old blog I’ve done some racing down in Colorado, a full overhaul on my sit ski, a handful of presentations, traveled to Revelstoke and Victoria, and got a few great days of skiing in my own backyard. My holidays were great but my time at home was brief.

Colorado in December is one of my most favourite places to be. The snow is usually good, and pretty much everyone is down there; from the Para Alpine racers to all the freestylers doing the Dew Tour — it’s like a big ol’ reunion.

Josh Dueck GS2 race

GS2 race, Copper Mountain, Colorado.

It was a frantically busy trip to Colorado with a solid week of training prior to the races, followed by four straight races (2xGS and 2xSL). Our whole team did very well and I’m happy to say I won three gold and one bronze medal, a great start to the season.

I also had a chance to spend some time in the foam pits at Woodward at Copper and practice doing some flips in my sit ski! The foam pit is the first step of progression to bring that backflip onto the snow one day.

Even though I’m at the forefront of the progression of my sport, I always keep safety in mind. It’s important to recognize and follow a plan when developing new ideas and skills. The next phase of this chapter of training includes lots of practice on an airbag, and then if everything is aligned we’ll try a flip on the snow. Small steps and lots of training/practice are the keys to safe progression in any sport or job.

Returning home for the holidays was a treat, especially since I always put off Christmas shopping off until the last minute. I literally started my shopping at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. I got lucky with my shopping, and enjoyed a most wonderful and relaxing Christmas with the family . . . it was nice.

The rest of my holidays were spent overhauling my sit ski to ensure it can handle the big jumps and high speeds in the months ahead. I also spent time working on my website, JoshDueck.com. I’m so damn excited for the season ahead and I’m really looking forward to being able to share it with you via my webpage. It’s gonna be rad.

Josh Dueck

An early Christmas present from a friend on the Canadian Para-alpine Ski Team.

Revelstoke was next on my list of places to be. I had a chance to go to a classic ski bar and do a presentation on behalf of my favourite foundation, Liveit! Loveit!. This organization is close to my heart, and to be able to share the love and promote empowerment through sport with my good friends is the best feeling. Thanks to Izzy and Zoya Lynch for making this happen, and to all the people for coming out and supporting the cause.

After Revelstoke, it was back to Vernon for a couple of days. I spent some time up at the “Star” riding with friends during the day, and spending my evenings downtown at the Best of Banff Film Festival. It’s always great to take in all of the spectacular films that are being showcased. If you love the outdoors and haven’t been to the festival it’s an absolute must. The “Freedom Chair” played both nights. To see the reaction of the home crowd was amazing — I’m honored and flattered by the support of the community.

Off to Victoria for New Year’s Eve with my lovely lady and some friends. We went to Atomic Vaudeville, the most eclectic production I’ve ever seen — it was a cross between Monty Python and SNL gone completely insane. Brilliant show and a completely ridiculous way to ring in the New Year. However, the purpose of going to Victoria was to meet with the folks at the McCoppin Institute of Learning, to discuss working together in the future. The meeting went so well that we started to design a forum that both Lacey and I can facilitate together — such an awesome concept considering she’s been an integral part to writing the story known as my life.

New Hampshire license plate

This personalized New Hampshire license plate says it all.

After Victoria I made it back home for a night to unpack and repack, and have a sit down for a community dinner with our neighbors. The following day I caught a flight to Montreal and drove down to New Hampshire for the U.S. Championships. I’m excited for an opportunity to ski fast and test my mettle against some of the top racers in the world.

Stay tuned for all the results, and stories from my upcoming adventures to Whistler and Aspen.

Blog

Josh Dueck

Profile Josh's posts

Jessica Vliegenthart

Profile Jessica's posts