A LETTER FROM AN ATHLETE | Josh Dueck 

LETTERS FROM AN ATHLETE IS A SERIES THAT FOCUSES ON SHOWCASING SOME OF OUR ATHLETES, WHO ARE PROUD TO REPRESENT AND BE SUPPORTED BY HIGH FIVES. IT’S ALSO A CHANCE FOR US TO SHOW OFF HOW APPRECIATIVE THE FOUNDATION IS TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THESE INDIVIDUALS AS THEY CHASE DREAMS, COMPLETE GOALS, AND INSPIRE OTHERS.

A Letter From an Athlete

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High Fives is honored to be associated with Josh, The British Columbian was injured over ten years ago and has proven to be an absolute staple and pioneer of the sit ski world, as well as amazing father, speaker, advocate for the disabled community and friend of the Foundation.

 

16 years ago while coaching freestyle skiing young Josh Dueck misjudged the speed of a jump and went far past the landing spot, the impact of overshooting the jump and over-rotating his flip caused extensive damage to his spinal cord. The young man’s life was instantly changed as he quickly realized that he would be wheelchair bound.

He didn’t allow allow his disability to slow him down for long. Shortly after his injury he returned to snow in a sit ski and began to push a new sport. Within a year he was on the Canadian national team competing around the world. He became world champion in downhill in 2009. His career only sky rocketed from there. After that he won multiple Paralympic and world cup medals, an X Games gold medal and became the first skier to ever land a backflip in a sit ski. Josh retired from professional ski racing after a gold medal performance in the 2014 Paralympics.

The now 39 year old father of two still shreds a sit ski but his focus has shifted to time with his family, job with Freestyle Ski BC, mountain biking, surfer and professional speaking.

A LETTER FROM Josh

My name is Josh Dueck. 

March 8, 2004, was the day my world flipped upside down. On what seemed like a routine day on the mountain, coaching a group of Freestyle ski athletes, I made a critical error in judgment. This resulted in a catastrophic accident, which left the athletes traumatized, and myself paralyzed.

 

Back in my day, there was not an abundance of resources available to those with life-changing injuries; nor were there clearly defined support groups for outgoing, adventuring types like myself. It felt like the Wild West for the first few years, with an open canvas to explore the world around me.There is a sense of excitement that comes with exploring new ground, and yet anotable loneliness and fear that comes with a life-changing injury.

It has been great to watch, experience, support, and benefit from the incredible network of passionate and engaged people that make up the High Fives Ohana.

 My first encounter with Roy Tuscany was in 2012 at the X-Games, where Roy was working to create awareness, and raise funds for the newly minted High Fives Foundation. His personality had me at the door, and seeing his drive to make a difference intrigued me. Shortly after our first introduction, Roy invited me to an early surf camp with a few salty old dogs.I figured it would be worth the effort to attempt anew sport. The trip was a wild success though we hardly had any swell. The big win came from learning how to live and work together with a group of other like-minded and similarly able athletes in the great outdoors. We had to learn how to set up camp, manage and maintain our adaptive equipment, and do this all from our chairs.

It was no small task at first, but the sense of accomplishment and the community that was built was surreal. Since that first camp in 2012, the foundation has elevated me time and again by supporting my goals as an athlete, ambassador, mentor, and father of two.

I feel truly blessed to be part of this community!

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High Fives team competing in the Duke Ocean Fest in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii.