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Saturday, November 3, 2012
Paralympian Dueck among National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year
Image: Paralympian Dueck among National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year

CALGARY, ALTA. (Nov. 3, 2012) – Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team member Josh Dueck, who made history this year by becoming the first person to complete a backflip on a sit-ski, has been chosen as one of 10 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year.

“(It) was pretty amazing,” Dueck said of learning about the honour. “That was right up there with finding out I was invited to be on the Ellen show, in terms of how excited I was.”

The Kimberley, B.C., native started to garner international attention a year ago when “The Freedom Chair,” a documentary about Dueck’s journey after a life changing spinal-cord injury, started to win critical acclaim at film festivals around the world. Then in February, the sit-skier appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show after video of his ground-breaking backflip went viral.

National Geographic says on its website that it selected the 2013 ‘Adventurers’ because of “their remarkable achievements in exploration, conservation, humanitarianism, and adventure sports.” Austrian Felix Baumgartner, who broke the sound barrier in October with his free-fall from space, is also among those selected.

“I am always looking for different ways I can work with and play in harmony with nature, and there’s so many different ways you can do that,” said Dueck, whose passion is for skiing, especially backcountry powder, but also enjoys other extreme sports like mountain biking and surfing. “I even had the chance to go sky diving this summer, which was awesome. There’s always the thrill of getting outside and playing and then also overcoming the challenges and obstacles that present themselves from being in a wheelchair.”

Each year the public chooses one of the 10 nominees as the People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. Fans can vote daily at ngadventure.com until Jan. 16, 2013. The winner will be announced in Feb. 2013.

“I’m very, very excited to have this nomination from National Geographic because it is something I grew up with,” said Dueck. “My dad was a huge fan and I swear he probably owned 90 per cent of the volumes from the beginning of the 1900s through ‘til now.”

In 2004, while working as a freestyle ski coach, Dueck misjudged a jump during training and sustained a spinal-cord injury that left him paraplegic. His love for skiing, however, was not diminished and he returned to the mountains on a sit-ski. Since his accident, Dueck has won silver in slalom at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games, gold and bronze at the Mono Skier X competition at the X Games in Aspen, USA, a world championship in downhill and five International Paralympic Committee World Cup podiums. 

“Josh has a unique zest for life and a great love for skiing, and I think it’s incredible the way he’s created opportunities to break boundaries and inspired others to do the same,” said Brianne Law, athletic director of the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team. “His energy and his spirit for life are very contagious. You can’t help but get excited about following your passions and living your dreams when you hear him speak or watch him adventuring through life.”

Dueck’s days are divided between training and competing as a Paralympic skier, philanthropic work with the Life it! Love it! Foundation, whose mission is “to promote the progression of adaptive adventure and provide outdoor recreation opportunities for the disabled,” and seeking adventure for himself.

“It’s just this incredible platform to continue to work off of,” said the 31-year-old of being named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. “Because as an athlete and as a person, that’s one thing I really want to continue to promote is the benefits of being adventurous, of playing outside, especially now of days when it’s so easy for us to be consumed by technology and smart phones and computers and the Internet.”

In addition to Dueck, other 2013 ‘Adventurers’ include Baumgartner, artist Renan Ozturk, climber David Lama, explorer Mike Libecki, humanitarian Shannon Galpin, kayaker Steve Fisher, snowboarder Jeremy Jones, surfer Ramon Navarro and ultrarunner Lizzy Hawker.

To read more about Dueck or to vote, visit http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-yea...

Watch “The Freedom Chair” trailer

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

Follow Dueck on Twitter @JustDueck or on his website www.joshdueck.com

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