Hawai’i 2-0

You don’t remember the days you got a lot of sleep. What I’m trying to say is those days you don’t get a lot of sleep seem to be a little stickier in the ol’ memory department. Especially when you’re on an adventure. When you catch wave after wave or bag line after line and push yourself physically, you go to bed at 10 pm which turns out to actually be 1 am only to get up 4 and a half hours later to do it all over again… You only live once I guess.

This trip is about connection, as are all stories of adventure one might argue… This one more specifically is about reconnecting to surf.

6am departure. Aka 6:18 departure. Erik Hanson and I get dropped off for the 7am ferry at 6:47, 3 minutes to spare. This set the tone for the entire trip. Any connection we had to make was Seamless. The only way to describe it. Something we were very thankful for be it that we drove, ferried, bussed, trained flew and flew again to our rental car consuming 13 hours of the day and landing us at the amazing Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu.

First day, we were traditionally welcomed by a local waterman Tom Stone, aka Pohaku.

Not wanting waste a good welcoming and knowing I’ve got a limited time learning to surf with the Life Rolls on Foundation the following day I decide to hit the water. I slide into a Surf Dry, hooked up from Ocean Rodeo, dry suit to keep toasty, and looking like an alien. As warm as Hawaii is I don’t want risk the chills. Big thing for this session is trying to roll from a face down position to a face up position. Potentially a life saving maneuver if someone is unable to get to me in time. After 20 minutes and several close attempts I finally make the call to hold my breath. For the time being. I’ll work on it more later, we’ve got enough people around for now, so let’s surf!!

The setup is not ideal, but it’s a start. I’m laying on my belly elbows out chin on the board. I can look up, a little bit, enough to see the nose of the board. If I get my hand under my chin I can see a little more. Surfing is more about the feel anyways. That’s what I keep telling myself. I’ve got Erik and Brad in the water picking my waves and pushing me into them. Nice green face, no white wash, as the wave comes in the nose dips down, I get a bit of a push and I’m off down the line. Straight into happiness. Whoever said it is a state of mind and not a place was wrong. It’s both.

As we begin to loose daylight Erik and I blast out to see some of The Spots on the North Shore. We make it to Sunshine and Pipe as night engulfs us and then slide into Waimea Bay as the stars pop out. Then the moon slowly starts to show its new face. From the bottom though, like a lit up hammock hangin in the night sky. Or a crooked smile on an otherwise empty face.

It’s a similar program the next day at the Life Rolls on Event. We showed up over an hour early due to some miscommunication, or just a lack of it. No big deal, much like the state patroller noticing us through his radar gun and pulling us over to give us… directions. No big deal.
This time in the water I get a life jacket tucked under my chest, it gets my head up, allows me to lean a little more and work the wave. I then proceed to blow past the volunteers on some of the longer rides of the day! One of which I have to eject myself from right before I get a mouth full of sand.

I chant to the volunteer as she checks her watch. Fourth last wave of the day.


After the water session we are bagged, Erik has done two full days being in the water pushing us into dozens of waves. Instead of having a nap as discussed earlier we decide to tag into a sushi tailgate party at the Honolulu stadium. Typical. Convenient none the less as we’ve got tickets for Ziggy Marley in the next lot over.

We can hear the music from the outdoor concert, but it’s just out of sight. As we’re finishing up we get our invite from security to head into the concert.

“you guys can’t hang out here, either leave or if you have tickets, get inside.”

Enough said.

Ziggy throws down an awesome set and then slides a couple of his dads in.

We’re fortunate enough to get to meet and hang with him for a bit after the concert.

It’s over an hour drive back to the resort though so we pull the chute and make a break for it.

We’re up early… Again. Seemed to be a theme. Anyways we get going to watch Jesse Billauer show us how it’s done. We find a sea turtle and hang with him as we watch a few rides go down. We then roll back to the resort to hear a local C5 tell us his story and check out his custom ride. Erik and a couple others take him out to surf sunset. A C5 quadraplegic getting pushed into head and just over head height waves. Because he can. Just like we can, celebrate a birthday/anniversary with some new friends. Our first night on site, hitting up the golf course for a little get together. Things don’t get to outta hand, other than getting leied by a stranger in the parking lot.

The next morning is our first sleep in past 6. Thankfully. Our last day and another epic travel schedule starting at 7pm. We spend the day checking a few last things out around the hotel and then connect with some others by the pool for some snacks. Erik gets summoned to the water by several up and coming surfers both with disabilities and one un-disabled. I chill by the sea side till we make a mad dash to the car and head down the east side of the island for some new scenery… In the dark. We get to the airport 45 minutes early… So we decide to swing through Pearl Harbor. Seemed appropriate.
Of all things we saw there a herd of 12 seemingly wild house cats are what I expected the least.

When we get back to the airport we check in and immediately lose a boarding pass… Then it goes plane, layover, plane, train, bus, ferry, car ride and we made it. Seamless. Success. Surfing.

Huge thanks to Erik and the Canadian convoy, Jesse and Sarah with Life Rolls On, Dirk with XSAdaptive and Turtle Bay Resort for makin it all possible!

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Emily Suchy at the BC Winter Games


Remeber Emily Suchy? She is a new member of the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club this year.

After her very first season sit skiing, Emily attended the BC Winter Games this past weekend in Vernon.  She was one of four para athletes and one of five athletes from the Revelstoke Club.  Over the weekend she earned herself two gold meals (although she was the only one in her category – again – so we knew she’d medal) but they were pretty cool to wear non the less.  Emily plans to do a couple more low pressure loppets to round off her first year.  She also had Nationals 2013 her next goal and REALLY hopes she is able to face some real competition.  Live It! Love It! couldn’t be more proud of Emily’s drive and accomplishments. Go Emily Go!

These are some photos of Emily’s experience at the Games:

Emily checking in with her team.

Warming up on the first day

Finishing up the 3km race.

Emily was recognized as being the FIRST EVER sit skier to earn a medal at the BC Winter Games!

sprints on the second day

The Para Team

the third day Em was invited to participate in the relay races. the course was not for para so it was a bit tricky but of course she managed it and had lots of fun.

celebrating a great weekend!


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Running for a Greater Good.

Meet Matt and Dave. We are two friends from a little Island on B.C.’s beautiful west coast. We run, a lot. We also smile, a lot. We have both discovered a great connection with running, specifically running long and far. We came across this common passion at separate times in our lives but it has lead us to a very similar pursuit. To run for a greater good. We both grew up with an appreciation for our family, friends and environment and are creating a means of nurturing, enjoying and supporting all of these things simultaneously.
Project Talaria started as a “let’s do something big” call out between two friends. Quickly maturing into a “let’s do something big and and make it count” endeavor, the project exists as a means to support others while trying to achieve a variety of personal goals. We want to take the positive energy and excitement we get through running and channel it into something tangible. The result–Running for a Greater Good.
On August 18th, Dave and Matt will saddle up and attempt to run the Leadville 100 mile trail race in Leadville, Colorado. This will be both runner’s first 100 mile ultra-marathon attempt. In doing so they are honored to help raise money and awareness for the Live it! Love it! Foundation.
Check out their website for more information and to follow them in this epic journey!
Project Talaria

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UPside DOWN with Josh Dueck!

Holy Dyna! The start of 2012 has been a blitzkrieg of awesomeness…
It began with a quick trip to New Hampshire for the US Para Alpine Championships. I had a chance to test myself against the best riders in North America and it went pretty well… in 4 races I earned 4 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 off the top seat. It left me hungry for the next set of races in mid February.

On a different note, I’ve had this dream since I was first laid up in the hospital nearly 8 years ago to do a backflip in my sit ski… I always new it was possible.
The process to bring it to snow began awhile back at Copper Mountain into the foam pits at Woodward’s. I met up with Nick Bass whom is a very accomplished aerialist and jumping coach and it was then that we both knew that it could be done. Next stop was the terrain park at Blackcomb to practice this trick into an airbag. Our practice and preparations paid of 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 dial this in 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 pull the plug on the project and packed up for the X Games down in Aspen. This trip is one of my favorites and gives me a huge buzz everytime. 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 that everyone was going to be able to go fast and put on a good show – and that’s exactly what happened. It was probably the best finals heat our sport has ever showcased.

So happy for my good friend Sam Son who took home the gold… and a bronze finish for me is a damn fine performance. STOKED! Another over the top rush was getting to attend the Powder Video Awards. I had just found out before heading to the party that the ‘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 the announced our film… simply stunned.

Back to Vernon for a couple of days to rest up, do a presentation for Interior Health and catch up on some overdue office work. It was after less than 48 hours of being at home that the crew from switchback entertainment called me up and said the weather in Whistler was going to bluebird and that Powder Mountain was willing to build me a big ole backcountry booter to send the backie.

I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story…

Everything’s Got Its Price.

The Battle Scar

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Back on the Slopes with Pauline Hunt

Pauline Hunt of Revelstoke BC   felt the wind in her face as she slid down Whistlers slopes in a sit ski over the Christmas Holidays for the first time since her diagnosis of ALS.  Read her account of the experience and stay tuned as Paulines ski journey continues!

The temperature dips to a cool minus five degrees and the snow has begun to fall. Big, fat, fluffy flakes that mean one thing to the diehard skier: powder! This scenario brings on a Pavlovian-type response to most snow enthusiasts; the urge to get out on the mountain and shred. This has been my way of life for over 20 years; so, when faced with my diminishing muscle strength due to ALS, I was saddened to find out my trusty legs would not take me down the mountain anymore.

After being truly inspired by the new film, Freedom Chair, about sit-skier Josh Dueck, I began to check out my options and found a growing number of ski areas offering adaptive skiing. I happened to be in Whistler over Christmas holidays so I gave sit-skiing a try. The Live It – Love It Foundation set up and funded my lesson day, which was amazing.

Well… Josh makes it look pretty easy. I quickly learned that the only way to control your speed on a sit-ski is to carve or glide a turn. No snow-plowing, no easing into things. Luckily I had my two charming and very helpful instructors, Jason and Thomas, to hold me up and slow me down. I managed a few good turns on each run and it was fun to get back out there with a cool wind on my face. As it was during the busy Christmas season, the bunny hill was crowded and I probably freaked many of the beginners out as I zoomed around them doing big GS turns. It will probably take 2-3 more lesson days before anyone will set me loose on the sit-ski but I now have something new to work towards.

A big thank you goes out to Live It – Love It and the Whistler Adaptive Skiing program, thanks for getting me back out there!

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Two Skis. One Bucket. And a little thing called Trust.

Trust. Can you trust some you don’t know? Sure you can that’s an easy question. But to what level is where I’m going. Trusting someone with your favorite hockey card or your new saxophone is one thing. Could you trust them with your physical well being? I didn’t think this is quite what I was doing when I went sit skiing. Turns out I was mistaken. It all came to me after I had my hands taped to outriggers and my body synched into a bucket that was attached to two freshly waxed skis. It didn’t hit me right away, like on the first or second run. It was the third. I have just done two runs with the assistance this guy, not just any guy either. He’s 80 and weighs 130lbs, dressed. Don’t get me wrong he’s been shreddin and appears to be fully capable. It was when he stopped near the top of our third run and said
“I just missed the turn, sooo… I guess we’re committed to this one…”
I started to question the situation. Moments later I had more questions. Questions like:

How did we miss it?
Why did he feel the need to stop us?
How big of a drop is on the other side of that cat track?
How fast would I have to be going for me to hit a tree and for it to feel soft?
We were doin snap turns down this run that ended in a 90 degree right, below the 90 is the original abyss. I still don’t know what a snap turn is, but we were doin them. Every time we pointed down fall line I had a sinking feeling that I was… sinking. Sinking into total helplessness. If ol’Al slips up I am going to be in a world of hurt. It was however the situation we found ourselves in. Me for trusting, Al for ripping. Ripping right past the run we were gonna go down. We ditched the snap turns and resorted to a side slip of the literal sort.
There were a couple other times over the two days where I continued to ponder trust, and the softness of trees. At the end of the two day session I was thankful to not have an experience to answer the latter. I have come to terms with the former being worth the risk to shred.


Big thanks to my sister, J2, Al, Ron 1&2

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New Para Nordic program helps local girl hit the trails

If you live in Revelstoke, BC you may recognize Emily Suchy  as the girl pedaling around town on a unicycle in the summer months. Like most 14 year olds in mountain towns Emily loves getting outside, kayaking, climbing and photography- taking pictures of flowers and scenery are some of her favorite outdoor activities. She started unicycling when she was seven and uses that and bicycling as her main mode of transportation when there isn’t snow on the ground.

Not only is it fun, but a huge help for Emily as she suffers from a degenerative disease of the hip joint called Perthes Syndrome that limits her ability to walk distances of more than a few blocks. High impact activities are not an option which can make getting outside and getting around in the wintertime a challenge.

Until recently, when with the help of a good friend and member of the Revelstoke Nordic Club- Debbie Koerber, Emily has been given the opportunity to get out on the cross-country ski trails. Koerber has spearheaded a Para Nordic program in Revelstoke to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to join the team and get out skiing on the Macpherson cross country trails and racing all over the province.

After receiving equipment grants from the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Live It! Love It!, Debbie and Emily attended a camp in Canmore, AB where they were educated on how to facilitate a Para Nordic program, given on snow coaching and instruction from National team coaches, athletes and support staff. Emily was able to test out and borrow a sit ski from the Canmore Para Nordic club for the camp. When asked about the camp Emily said: “It was really cool, I met all these amazing athletes. Everyone was really open and willing to talk about their disabilities. It was really inspiring.” Emily appreciates the amazing quality coaching and attention from everyone involved with the camp, “It’s awesome to have a winter activity, I don’t usually do much in the winter so I’m really happy”.

A few weeks after the camp Emily and Debbie attended a BC Winter Games time trial in Sovereign Lake. Joan Reid, a paraplegic from Salmon Arm brought a fleet of sit skis for Emily to test out. Emily took to her race ski right away and finished the time trial in sixteen minutes, qualifying for the BC Winter Games. Emily is excited about the winter ahead and plans on attending races all over BC. Debbie emphasizes that the support of the team, community and coaches are highly advantageous for the success of the program and hopes that Emily’s participation inspire other individuals with disabilities in Revelstoke to join the Para Nordic team and help raise awareness about Para sport in the area.

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Josh Dueck joins FWT Speakers Series in Revelstoke on Dec 27th

Live It! Love It! Director, freeskiier, decorated paralympian and xgames champion will be joining the Freeskiing World Tour Speakers Series in Revelstoke on December 27th.

Josh will tell the compelling story about his life and athletic career as a paraplegic, his involvement in the Live It! Love It! Foundation and will be showing the full version of the award winning film, Freedom Chair- produced by Switchback Entertainment.

Join us and Josh at Mackenzies (in The Powder Springs Inn, behind the Last Drop) on December 27th at 7:30pm.

Entrance is by donation- All proceeds go to the Live It! Love It! Foundation.

See you there!


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Red Mountain Adaptive Ski Program

Little Known Fact: Red Mountain in Rossland BC has an adaptive ski program!

They have two sit skis available at the mountain, and offer generic adaptive lessons and can also cater to custom requests for adaptive lessons.

For folks looking to get out in some Kootenay pow- An adaptive lesson at Red is $99.00, this includes two hours of certified instruction by CAD’s pros and adaptive rentals.

They only take Pre Bookings for this product to allow for adequate scheduling and any bookings can be made by email by reaching snowsports@redresort.com or by phone at 1-250-362-7384 ext 235.

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Freedom Chair Wins At Banff Mountain Film Festival!

Freedom Chair is a film about Josh Dueck, aspiring free skier and ski coach, who sustained a life changing spinal cord injury in 2004. Determined to make the best of a tragic situation, Josh quickly focused his energies on returning to sport and within one year he was back on snow doing what he loved as a member of the paralpine ski team. In 2010 Josh became a decorated Olympian with a Silver Medal in the Slalom event in Whistler and was the champion of the sit ski event at the XGames last year. Despite his success in the world of alpine ski racing, he knew he would only be fulfilled when he was able to return to big mountain and backcountry skiing.

Freedom Chair is the film about Josh’s return to powder skiing, wild lines and big mountains. Filmed, edited and produced by Mike Douglas and Jeff Thomas it was just released last week at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. The only show to get a standing Ovation, the film was clearly an inspiration to all those who watched it.

Last night it was Awarded Best Mountain Sports Film at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Stay tuned for times and places you can see Josh tell his compelling story. Congrats to Josh and Switchback Entertainment for their achievements!

The Freedom Chair – Official Trailer from Switchback Entertainment on Vimeo.

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