A letter from an Athlete | Justin Pines
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.
High Fives is honored to be associated with Justin Pines, seeing Justin set goals and put his mind to completing them is nothing less than incredible.
The young Colorado resident was an extremely talented skier, who unfortunately took a bad fall while skiing at Squaw Valley. The fall caused substantial injuries to Pines, he punctured and collapsed a lung, fractured his sternum and broke his back causing a spinal cord injury at the T4/5 level.
After being transported off the hill and flown to Renown Medical Center, Pines learned of his new reality. He took no time to feel sorry for himself, instead looked forward to the future and how he was going to continue to live life the way that he wanted to.
Pines’s infectious positive attitude and dedication has taken him so far since her injury. We look forward to see how he will continue to represent the Foundation by being the best version of himself.
A Letter From Justin
My name is Justin Pines and on April 9, 2016, I was skiing alone in some trees, when I hit a small
natural feature, and launched into the air, not in control. I landed backwards and off balance, one ski
hitting the ground first, then the other. I could see a tree over my right shoulder. I thought, “I’m lined up
for that tree. I’m going to hit it. Should I throw my body out of the way and try to miss it? I’ll probably just
hit the next one. But maybe I won’t…”
The impact broke my spine, 6 of my ribs, it sheared my sternum in half and collapsed my right lung.
What’s more, I was hanging upside down in the tree well. My skis had somehow gotten stuck in the
snow up above and I was dangling upside down in an 8ft well. I spent almost an hour upside down in
that tree well until I was rescued by ski patrol. They extricated me, got me off the mountain and rushed
me to the hospital for emergency surgery. I was immediately paralyzed from the chest down. To this
day, I’m unable to move or feel from the top of my stomach down.
High Fives community has been instrumental in adapting to life after injury. In the last 2 years with
High Fives, I’ve gotten back to skiing in a monoski, I’ve been able to acquire a racing wheelchair and
complete the 2017 NYC Marathon (30min faster than I ran it in 2015!), I’ve gotten back into the ocean
and surfed off the California coast, and – most important of all – I’ve met a whole slew of amazing
mentors and friends, all of whom I’ve learned from and grown with.
Just last month I had the incredible privilege to join the 2nd annual Winter Park Adaptive Ski Camp,
this time in a mentorship capacity myself. It was empowering to be focused not just on my own
progression, but now also on the development of others. To be sharing of my story as so many others
have shared with me. High Fives continues to make possible these incredible opportunities for
expansion and growth in my life.
I leave you with this: there has been no single organization or community of people who have so
profoundly shaped my return to a fullness of life after injury. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for
being a part of this life-giving organization.