As I sit here watching the waves crash, I listen to the strength of the powerful ocean. I think to myself, “How did I even end up here?”
Hi, my name is Trevor Kennison.
From New Hampshire to Australia
I was born in Keene, New Hampshire, and currently reside in Winter Park, Colorado, which I have called home for the past 10 years.
But I am currently in Sargood on Collaroy, Australia. This is the first-ever spinal cord injury resort of its kind in the world! Saying that is wild to me – how aren’t there more places like this in the world to make it the norm?
I used to be a plumber, so I know a little about the construction world. Everyone wants something unique when they are building a home or a new commercial building. There are 17 accessible rooms here at Sargood on Collaroy. The facility isn't attached to a hospital but instead is right next to the beach with ramps accessing the beach. I have never seen anything like it.
Screening Full Circle
The reason I got so lucky to spend 5 nights at this amazing resort was because of Josh Berman and the crew at Level 1 Productions who produced a 104-minute documentary called Full Circle. Full Circle is a story about post-traumatic growth after having a spinal cord injury, and it just so happens to be about my experience.
In 2014, I broke my back in a snowboarding accident, suffering a spinal cord injury that left me paralyzed from the waist down, and for the past 9 years I have adapted my life to being in a wheelchair. I am now a professional skier.
Sargood reached out wanting to have a screening of Full Circle to share with the Australian adaptive community. I couldn't believe it, since I was already trying to head down unda!
Fun aside: The Boston accent and Australian accent have some similarities in certain words. My trainer, Jonny Wright, is from England so the accent was already easy enough to understand. I have been here for a month already and can't even hear an Australian accent anymore.
I showed the film screening here on Saturday, and a lot of people were so excited to watch it. It’s crazy the impact that I have on people, able body or disabled, from not just an athletic skiing standpoint but a life standpoint. Having a good outlook on life even when you didn't get dealt a strong hand lets you stay positive and make the most out of it.
The Journey Down Unda
How did I get here? I am so fortunate to be sitting where I am, listening to and watching the waves crash. Sit skiing is the sport I do — and it has brought me to so many places in the world!
My girlfriend Kelly took a job coaching ski moguls for a FIS Australian team with a plan to move here to Australia. She packed up and moved here in June, and I wanted to support her to the fullest! My first thought was, “How in the world do I get to Australia to go be with her?!”
Well, I got my thinking cap on and before she took the job officially, I reached out to one of my partners, Ikon Pass. We started talking, and things fell into place.
Skiing in Australia
I had the opportunity to spend 4 nights at Mount Buller and 4 nights in Thredbo skiing. That was the start of me getting down to Australia and spending 5 full weeks here. The community at Mount Buller and Thredbo was so welcoming.
A lot of people asked me, "There's skiing in Australia?" Let me tell you: yes, there is skiing in Australia, and lots of it!
This season was historically a bad season here, but you have to make the most out of it, and that's exactly what I did. It's humid and the runs are tighter, but I grew up in Keene, New Hampshire, and I've skied the East Coast (Mount Snow, Okemo, Mount Sunapee). It reminded me of exactly that!
No matter the snow conditions, people were frothing to get on snow — rain or shine. I love that; it's exactly what I did with my injury, you make the most out of it.
Of course, I brought my Darn Tough socks so I could keep my feet warm and comfortable in all varying conditions. After having a spinal cord injury, the resulting lack of circulation in your feet leads to not feeling hot or cold, so it's extremely important to keep those feet temperature regulated. Thank you for keeping my little piggies warm and, most importantly, safe!
Preparing for the Journey
I packed up my truck on July 30th — my birthday — and drove from Colorado to stay with my best friend Roy Tuscany in Reno, Nevada. I trained at the High Fives Foundation Cr Johnson Healing Center for 10 days to get me ready for skiing. It's incredible what Roy and the staff have done with the Cr Johnson Healing Center, helping so many athletes across the country.
I am High Five athlete 110, and I think the athlete number count is currently 600-700. Roy changed my life and so many other lives. Not only did he help me get back to sport, but he helped me find community through sport.
This was my first international trip on my own, and I was going to be on the road for the longest time since having my spinal cord injury. I was so excited to see a new continent, but was so nervous doing this on my own. But I did it with my 3 suitcases, 1 sit ski, and 1 ski bag.
I have gone to Chile to ski with my sister and brother-in-law, to Canada with Level 1 Productions, and to Japan to ski for a week with my sister, but never have I traveled for this long on my own. The hardest part of doing that is transporting my luggage and finding vehicles to fit all of my stuff.
A Story From Along the Way
Funny story — I landed a day early and booked my rental car for a month starting the next day. So, I got a taxi to get all 5 of my bags to a hotel.
The next day I was getting ready to head to the rental car place, and I called an Uber to save on some money. The funny thing is the Uber driver pulled up (and of course I got an Uber XL), and his face had so many question marks! I only had myself and 3 suitcases out front and he was like… is that all?
I told him to fold the middle seats down, and we'll make it work. Then my ski bag and sit-ski came out, and he immediately said no.
I felt a bit defeated. He wouldn't even try. It makes sense; his SUV was too small. I was jet lagged, tired, and the people at the hotel called for a taxi that had a lift (wheelchair ramp) inside of it. Sure, it was more expensive, but all of my stuff fit and I was on my way. The people were so nice.
Never give up and always ask for help. The worst someone can say is no.
I got in my rental car, and I was on my way to Jindabyne where Kelly was staying. I was so excited to see another country and of course ski in a new country.
I am so thankful for all my partners, friends, and family because without them I wouldn't be where I am in life today, so I want to say thank you from down unda! So sad to go, but I am so excited to get back to the Northern Hemisphere snow and show this movie Full Circle to the world.
One love and lets f***ing go!
About the Author
Trevor Kennison is a professional sit skier, High Fives and Darn Tough Vermont athlete, and all-around amazing guy. After a snowboarding accident paralyzed him from the waist down, he adapted his life to being in a wheelchair and learned to sit ski. His favorite quote is, "Let's go baby!"