World champion sit skier Josh Dueck had never appeared on a podium before last year, when Canada’s Para-Alpine Ski Team debuted its new state-of-the-art sit ski. Now Dueck, at 28 and five years into the sport, has been transformed, winning a downhill first at the 2009 IPC World Championships in South Korea, and another first at the IPC World Cup Finals in Whistler.
Dueck’s talent on the slopes extends back before the skiing accident that broke his back in 2004, but his new sit ski, designed under the Top Secret aegis by Denis Rancourt, a mechanical engineer at the Université de Sherbrooke, has a lot to do with his new podium prowess as a paralympian. Combining flexibility and grace—articulated, adjustable parts and a shock absorption system borrowed from motocross that mimics an able-bodied skier’s leg—the sit ski seems poised to blow competitors away.
See him using the equipment on the slopes, then listen to the articulate Dueck tell the harrowing tale of his life-transforming accident. A warning to the squeamish—Dueck uses graphic, at times harsh, language; it’s entirely worth it.