CALGARY, ALTA. (Feb. 8, 2012) – Josh Dueck, a member of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team, has realized his dream of doing a back flip on skis once again. He is the first athlete to complete the feat in a sit ski.

Dueck a former freestyle coach, who lived to be on the slopes, broke his back in 2004 when he overshot a demonstration jump and lost the use of his legs.

Dueck completed the back flip on his sit ski on Feb. 3 in Whistler, B.C., and posted a video on YouTube on Tuesday, which now has over 132,000 hits. The video was posted on ESPN.com next to a video of Superbowl XLVI winner Eli Manning and aired on ABC’s Good Morning America.

“The two words that popped into my mind (after completing the flip) were redemption and freedom,” Dueck said. “The sensation of flying and flipping was exactly the way it felt before, which was pretty awesome.”

The native of Kimberley, B.C., who won silver in slalom at the 2010 Paralympic Games, has been thinking of flipping since the day of his accident.

“The idea has just been sitting there simmering on the burner,” explained Dueck. “This year we started to get the momentum behind it and I started to really put my focus and attention on it and had the support that I needed to actually tackle the project.”

Dueck got the boost of courage he needed from Nicholas Bass, a high-performance advisor for Own The Podium and a former coach with the Canadian arial team.

“Nick installed the confidence in me saying, 'Dude not only do you have this, but it's going to be very straight forward for you to complete this trick,'” Dueck recalled. “I was like ‘all right this is the top jump coach in the world telling me that it's not only possible, but it's actually quite easy.’”

Dueck started by jumping into foam pits at an indoor ski and training facility in Copper Mountain, USA.

“Sébastien (Michel) and Lasse (Ericsson) and some of the other coaches at Alpine Canada have been really gracious to give me the time but also muscle me up and down the ramps,” said Dueck of the indoor training. “It’s not easy work in a sit ski in that environment and getting me up and down and doing laps on the ramps.”

After three years of training in the foam pits whenever he had spare time away for the para-alpine team, Dueck moved to snow, this time landing on an airbag.

Finally, Dueck put it all together on Feb. 3 on a jump shape suggested by Bass and built with Powder Mountain Catskiing/Heliskiing.

“The sense of air control and what I needed to do instinctively and what I needed to do to control rotations was eerily familiar,” said Dueck, who also competed in the last two X Games in Mono Skier X, winning gold in 2011 and bronze in 2012. “I was actually quite comfortable going through the motions.”

Whistler based producer/director Mike Douglas, who worked on the acclaimed 2011 documentary about Dueck, “The Freedom Chair,” and in conjunction with Salomon Freeski TV, came along to capture the epic back flip on video.

The 31-year-old wasn’t expecting all the attention he received from the video.

“It has completely blown me away,” he said. “This is certainly opening up a big door and new avenues for people to express themselves through skiing. I don't know if it will ever be a full-blown thing (freestyle sit skiing) like the way ski racing is – ski racing has so much potential in so many ways. But it's pretty cool at this point in time for people to look at the sport in just a little bit of a different way.”

Dueck is still committed to the para-alpine racing season and will be competing in Nor-Am Cup races in his hometown of Kimberley from Feb. 16 to 17 and at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup Finals in Panorama, B.C., from March 13-16.

INFORMATION: Magalie Lafrenière
Communications Co-ordinator
Alpine Canada Alpin