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“Everything I do is a calculated risk”

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At this point, the team reports to the Paralympics newspaper, a project of the Tagesspiegel and the German Social Accident Insurance. All the texts of our digital series can be found here. You can find all the latest news on our blog and on the social media channels of the Paralympics newspaper. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Our reader survey can be found here.

Trevor Kennison is a paraplegic. He can’t move his legs. However, the American is one of the most daring extreme athletes in the United States. The mountains are Kennison’s home. There he races down the ski slopes, catapults off jumps and does spectacular somersaults. He fights his way through powdery snow, hurtles between rocks, jumps from three-foot-high cliffs. And while he is sitting

The reason for the paralysis of the American is an accident in 2014 while snowboarding. At the time, Kennison wanted to practice stunts off a ramp with friends, but he didn’t make the right jump. The then 22-year-old landed on his back, breaking two vertebrae and injuring his spinal cord.

“My body was saying, come on, get up! But I looked at myself and I couldn’t get up.” At first, he thought he might have broken his hip. “But as soon as I looked at my feet, I knew I was paralyzed.” Kennison’s rescue was endlessly delayed. The snowboarding spot was remote and weather conditions were poor. It was hours before paramedics reached Kennison, who was lying in freezing snow. “I didn’t think I’d make it down that mountain.” Kennison said later.

Kennison became severely depressed

But he did. And he did much more. Doctors told her that the damage was so severe that she would never be able to move properly again. Kennison proved her wrong. She fought for her independence and thought, “How can I turn this into a game?” Get by on your own in the bathroom, drive a car, get up from the floor in a wheelchair. Kennison set himself task after task. She just she went on and on and on. Successfully. “I would say I’m a very positive person, always with a smile on my face,” she later said in a relaxed interview.

But after the weeks in the clinic, the path back to everyday life was very challenging. Kennison became severely depressed. Until his sister finally suggested: how about monoskiing? “I got on the sled and was able to go anywhere on the mountain. I felt free and I knew: this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.” Skiing saved the quality of his life, mentally and physically.

Kennison hails from Keene, a small town in the state of New Hampshire on the east coast of the United States. Even when he was a little boy, he was enthusiastic about sports, as was his entire family. His parents competed in marathons, while he and his sister were especially interested in soccer and swimming. At one point, Kennison tried snowboarding and was so excited that he moved to Colorado after high school.

Today, Kennison is a phenomenon. Almost 74,000 people follow him on Instagram and more than 50,000 people like his videos on TikTok. He constantly shakes up the freestyle scene, putting healthy athletes in the shade with his performance. In January, he competed in the X Games, considered the largest extreme sports event in the world. He was the first disabled athlete to land the spectacular “Big Air Jump” in Aspen, in which skiers and snowboarders perform a high-speed ski jump and then catapult into the air. The falls are 20 to 30 meters wide.

His momentous fall in 2014 hardly seems to inhibit Kennison. He needs the speed, the height, the extraordinary. He time and time again he dares things that no one before him has dared. This was also the case at the “Kings and Queens of Corbet” sporting event in 2019, when he jumped several meters from a notorious ledge on his monoski. At the latest, he aroused the interest of sponsors. Kennison showed everyone: look, I’m living my dream and I can make fun of this professionally.

“Everything I do is a calculated risk,” says Kennison. Before the big jumps, he visualizes in his head landing the jump perfectly. “I could sit in my wheelchair at home or live my life. I will live my life. This is what I was born to do.”

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