Trevor Kennison doesn’t know the meaning of the word “quit.”
“It’s like this is what you have and you’ve got to deal with it, the cards you’ve (been) dealt,” Kennison told SnoCountry.com.
Kennison is an adaptive skier with Paralympic aspirations, but comes from a different mold than your average racer. Recently he caught the attention of the ski world and social media, winning the Riders Choice award at the Kings and Queens of Corbet’s event in Jackson Hole for his big air jump into the famous Corbet’s Couloir, a straight drop leap into a 50-degree chute.
“Really pushing the sport like no one’s pushed it before,” Kennison told us. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about it.”
After suffering a snowboard injury that paralyzed him from the waist down in 2014, Kennison was sidelined from the slopes for 14 months.
“Shattered my T11 and T12 vertebrae, basically landed like a taco,” Kennison added. “Did a seven and a half hour surgery … and got two 12-inch rods and screws in my back.”
For less positive or strong willed individuals, such a hurdle could send them spiraling into depression and apathy, but not Kennison.
“I’ve always been more positive but it (the injury) definitely brought it more out of me,” Kennison told us.
Although he said becoming adjusted to a mono ski and chair was “a little difficult” at first, he quickly adapted, drawing from his lifelong snowboarding and sports experience.
“My goal was to be able to ski black diamonds (runs) by the end of the week,” Kennison told us. “I was on them in three days.”
Setting the bar in Jackson
Kennison said he had to channel some inner cajones when sending his Corbet’s jump.
“I usually do two quick deep breaths before I do a jump,” Kennison said. “For this one I had to do like five or six.”
Kennison sent it huge for his jump, at least fifty feet from his take off. After he landed some thick moguls caught up his skis, but the deafening roar of the Jackson crowd proved his run was about as perfect as it could get.
“It was just the best feeling ever,” Kennison said.
Just more than three seasons removed from becoming paralyzed Kennison is now competing in the Freeride World Tour and training for the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing, China. He skis nearly every day in Winter Park, Colo., with more than 115 days in the books just this season.
“I want to win a gold medal,” Kennison said. “Working my butt off in the gym, working my butt off on the hill.”
This season he has also been travelling around the west, hitting jumps, cliffs and rails while filming with Sherpas Cinema and Teton Gravity Research film companies.
“I do anything I want and live life to the fullest, doesn’t matter your situation, whether able bodied or not,” Kennison said.
Kennison said he has no regrets about his injury and new path of life, transitioning from plumber to professional skier and motivational speaker. Expect to see Kennison’s name for many years to come as he plans to keep pushing the sport with road gap jumps, double backflips and a steadfast dedication to progression.
“I love my life,” Kennison said. “If I could walk that’d be cool, but at the same time I don’t care to walk. This is my life.”