The AT50: Adaptive Freeskier Josh Dueck (#38)

A paralyzing accident couldn't keep him grounded
Staff Writer

Alpine Canada

Age: 32
Sports: Alpine skiing (sitting)
Highlights: Silver medalist at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in the men's slalom sit-ski event; gold at the X Games mono ski cross in 2011; First person to perform a backflip in a sit ski
Quote: "No matter how mad I get or how many tears I cry, it’s not going to change it. So f***. Lets’ get a grip and move forward."
Fact: Dueck prepared for three months for his sitting backflip.
AT50 Point Total: 35.5

Nine years ago, Canadian freeskier Josh Dueck misjudged a jump—he overshot the landing and fell 100 feet—and landed at a figurative crossroads. Lying in a hospital bed and paralyzed from the waist down, he could either accept his fate and give up on his passion (he was a top freesking coach), or find a way to get back into the mountains. It wasn't a hard choice.

Within a year, Dueck was back on the slopes he loved, learning to sit ski. Among other competition highlights, he won a silver medal in the men's slalom sit-ski at the 2010 Paralympics and took took gold in the 2011 X Games Mono Skier X event. But none of that compared to the freedom and sense of accomplishment Dueck felt last February when, against all odds, he "went upside-down" again, landing the first-ever sit-ski backflip. Dueck's courageous story and passion for skiing was documented in award-winning 2011 film The Freedom Chair, which continues to inspire viewers everywhere.
—Jessica Khorsandi

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