“The first things I thought about when I realized I couldn’t move my legs were my parents, then my sister, my girlfriend, and then the apartment I had just put first, last, and security on. I’d soon learn I wouldn’t be able to fit through the doorways of that apartment.”
Trevor Kennison describes the first few moments after a snowboarding accident on Vail Pass in November 2015 that would leave him paralyzed. At the time, he likely figured his time on the snow was over. But just last week, he sent it into Corbet’s as part of the King and Queen of Corbet’s competition hosted by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. He took home the Rider’s Choice Award, just three years after his accident.
Kennison, hailing from Keane, NH, had moved to the mountains of Colorado and was out enjoying a day of snowboarding with his friends when he hit a jump, ended up head over heels, and heard a large CRACK. His friend attempted to get him up and he calmly responded: “dude, I can’t move.”
In the days and weeks that followed, Kennison would learn that he had broken his back and punctured his spine — an injury that can be fatal. In this case, it caused paralysis from his waist down.
Almost immediately, Kennison knew that this wouldn’t stop him from living a full life. After a few days in the hospital, he drove himself home.
Prior to sit-skiing, Kennison had never spent a day of his life on skis. He was a snowboarder who enjoyed lapping the hill with his friends. He had, however, spent much of his childhood and young adulthood as a competitive swimmer. During that time, he learned to push himself physically and even sustained a number of labrum injuries. This strong athletic base ended up being pivotal for how Trevor was able to regain composure, focus, and determination after the accident.
Trevor had no interest in getting back on the snow at first. It was his older sister, Ashley Kennison, and their friend Thomas Caruso, who encouraged him to try a sit-ski one year after his accident. In December of 2015, Ashley surprised Trevor with a day of skiing at Aspen. “I was so scared at first,” Kennison said.“You end up going so fast and it’s really hard to turn or stop. After a half day, all I wanted was to sit at the lodge with a beer. I was done.”
But he wasn’t. A month and a half later, Trevor went to Crested Butte with the Craig Hospital. With support from the Adaptive Sports Center at Crested Butte, he got back on the sit-ski.
“I told myself I’d ski black diamond runs in 5 days,” Kennison said.”I was on them in 3.”
After that, he was hooked. He committed to his fitness and trained at the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, TX with support from Roy Tuscany at the High Fives Foundation. The High Fives Foundation’s mission is to support action sports athletes that have suffered life-altering injuries. They encouraged Trevor to train and get stronger, helping him prepare for more time on the ski.
Trevor now lives and trains at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, CO. He’s committed his life to become an extreme sit-ski athlete and as many of us saw, Trevor dropped into Corbet’s (for the first time ever!) and nailed it.
“My story isn’t a sob story,” Kennison said. “Yeah, it’s not easy. But I have a really positive attitude. I ski because I love it and I want to show the world what we [people with physical disabilities] are capable of.”
He continued, “I want to change the ski industry. I want to push the boundaries of extreme skiing. I’m just…doing it sitting down.”
Trevor Kennison was awarded the Riders Choice Award for his run into Corbet’s. If you missed it, check it out below. Learn more about the organizations that have supported Trevor along the way: Adaptive Training Foundation, High Fives Foundation, and National Sports Center for the Disabled.
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