This Sunday, Whistler Film Festival goers will have a chance to watch the award winning Switchback Entertainment documentary “Freedom Chair,” a film about the journey of Paralympic skier Josh Dueck.
Dueck, an aspiring skier himself, was coaching now big name athletes Riley Leboe, TJ Schiller, Justin Dorey and Josh Bibby, when a ski jump gone horribly wrong turned him into a paraplegic in 2004. In the film, Dueck says the pivotal moment in his recovery is when his doctor told him he’d be “kick ass” in a wheelchair and be back in the mountains, using a sit ski.
Since then, he’s has turned his life changing accident into a new chapter in his life. One that has won him a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games and the Monoskier X title at the X Games.
The crew behind this film that is generating buzz – both within the ski industry and beyond – is Switchback Entertainment, consisting of pro freeskier Mike Douglas and Jeff Thomas.
“The Freedom Chair was the most emotional and rewarding project I’ve ever worked on,” says Douglas. “Josh is as much an inspiration to work with every day as he is in the movie. We hoped the film would be well received but the feedback has been truly overwhelming.”
The film has gone on to win awards on the film festival circuit this fall: Best Mountain Sports Film – Banff Mountain Film Festival 2011, Best International Short Documentary – All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival 2011 and Best Family Film – 15 Minutes of Fame Film Festival (Florida) 2011
“It was a pretty big surprise for all of us to see how well Freedom Chair has been doing,” says Dueck.
“The comments are piling up right now and it feels great. The one comment that really stands out for me was girl that came up to me after the Banff Mountain Film Festival and said: ‘It’s no longer Impossible, it’s I’M possible.’”
Dueck speaks highly of the Switchback team, describing Douglas as “super innovative and creative” and Jeff Thomas as “one of the raddest and hardest working MoFo’s around.”
His most memorable moments from filming are shredding pow with his buddies and sending it with pro skier Mark Abma.
This Sunday when you watch the film, hopefully you will find some inspiration to pursue your dreams, regardless of the obstacles that stand in your way.
“Embrace the challenges that life brings, they’re opportunities to gather strength and perspective,” says Dueck.” It’s not what happens to a person in life that defines their character – it’s how they respond to change.
After all, like his twitter handle, Dueck’s message is clear: @JustDueck.
“Freedom Chair” plays at the Whistler Film Festival Closing Gala alongside Warren Miller’s “Like There’s No Tomorrow.” More information is available at whistlerfilmfestival.com.