[Q&A] Catching up with sit-skier Trevor Kennison

[Q&A] Catching up with sit-skier Trevor Kennison

By now, you’ve probably witnessed Trevor Kennison’s enormous send into Corbet’s Couloir. You’ve heard about the sit-skier who throws backflips and skis the park. You already know he’s on the rise. But there’s more to Trevor’s story than meets the eye: Years of hard work, training and rehabilitation after a devastating injury are just now culminating in acclaim and recognition.

Now riding for the SPY+ team and filming a two-year documentary with Level 1 Productions founder, Josh Berman, Kennison is quickly skyrocketing to the top of the sport, checking off sit-ski “firsts” nearly every time he clicks into his bindings. With his new edit, “Day 1” now taking over the internet, we thought it was about time to catch up with Trevor. Keep reading for our exclusive conversation about quarantine life, getting back into the backcountry and wanting to boost doubles, ski couloirs and do everything possible on one ski.

How was life amidst quarantine? How’d you spend your time? 

This summer, I got a mountain bike and it was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. It was from a company out of Canada that make [adaptive bikes] and it was a game-changer. The bike really opened up the door to doing anything I wanted during the summer, whether it was fishing or hiking, just being able to access different spots. 

Are there any quarantine practices that you’ll carry into the next chapter?

I played a lot of video games… I get so many of my ideas for skiing from STEEP. And I got a home gym, it’s nice to have that fit into the routine everyday. No excuses.

What are some of your next goals or ambitions on snow?

I want to do a lot of backcountry filming this year and next. I got a snowmobile, so I’m excited to get into that realm—since I can’t hike, a sled is a huge asset for me, getting to zones, progressing in the backcountry. That’s where my focus lies.

What about the backcountry draws you in?

You can only get so much out of the resort and, for what I want to do, the backcountry just provides more opportunities. From backflips off of cliffs, doubles off of cliffs, road gaps, couloirs or steep lines—there are so many lines in this world that you can ski. I’m just really excited to explore that realm because it’s never been explored in my situation. I want to take sledding and skiing, and do them both at a really high level. I ski the whole mountain [already] and I’m excited to show people that I’m a big-mountain skier. I can’t wait for this season.

Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming project, “Full Circle” filmed by Level 1 Productions founder, Josh Berman? How did this two-year documentary come to life?

I met Josh two years ago at Outdoor Retailer and proposed the project. Basically, I wanted to go back to the spot [on Vail Pass] where I broke my back and do a backflip there. Fat Tire wanted to do a docu-series but I had bigger ideas. The first day of filming—a short edit that just came out called “Day 1”—Berman asked if I wanted to commit to a year or two-year project. From there, we just organically built this relationship.

What can viewers expect when the movie releases in fall 2022? 

Get ready to see a lot of rad clips and a bunch of stuff that’s never been done before! I want to touch a lot of people—I don’t care if they ski, whether they’re old or young—I’m just excited to help people. It’s not a ski movie; it’s a documentary.  The movie will tell the story of never giving up in life, no matter what, you can always look at the brighter side. Just keep grinding and working and good things will happen. 

The “Day 1” edit that just came out is a nice teaser from the upcoming film. Can you explain what’s going on in this clip? 

What you’re seeing in the clip is my first day in the backcountry in five years, the first time since I broke my back. On the first hit, I pulled a backflip and came up short; on the second try I stomped the backie. But it was super special to me because… shit, it was the first time out there since my injury. Not only did I go up there to go and ski; I went up there and stomped a big backflip. It was such a good feeling overall. 

Did you have any doubt in your mind that you wouldn’t get the backflip?

Honestly, when I came up short, I just thought: “I need more speed.” 

Having been back into the backcountry, what does it mean to you now?

A lot of people wouldn’t want to go back out to somewhere… somewhere they almost didn’t make it, a place they had such a traumatic injury. Every time I go out, it just means so much to be there, it’s really special. This year, I’m ready to fully indulge in it. 

This year, you’ve been sponsored by SPY+ and you’re wearing the all-new Astronomic MIPS helmet and Trailblazer goggle. What do you love so much about this gear?

I feel really fortunate that I could partner with SPY+. I couldn’t feel more at home with the team there. I absolutely love the goggles with the Happy lens technology—swapping out lenses is just click-click, boom. Next year, I’m coming out with my own pro model, too. And the Astronomic helmet has a great fit. Working with SPY+ is just my style.

For this year, every Trailblazer goggle sold will have proceeds going back to High Fives Foundation. Could you explain what High Fives is and your involvement with the organization?

High Fives is a non-profit out of Truckee, California, and it helps athletes with life-altering injuries getting back into action mountain sports. I broke my back snowboarding in the backcountry and I met [High Fives Founder] Roy Tuscany about a year after the accident. High Fives basically helped me get back into skiing, surfing, riding motorcycles—it’s really exciting because they helped me get back into the sports that I love and back to life. SPY+ will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the four Trailblazer styles to High Fives at the end of this season.

As you continue to progress your skiing, who are your biggest inspirations? 

Honestly, I don’t think I’d be this driven without my sister. A lot of it goes back to playing sports when we were kids: I was talented and she had to work super hard; I look up to her so much in that sense. After being in a wheelchair, she told me that it didn’t matter how talented I was, if I didn’t work for it, no one was going to do it for me. I get a lot of that from her. But there are so many skiers, snowboarders, athletes that I look up to. If I have to name names, Karl Fostvedt’s style always gets me amped.

On days that you’re feeling down, what helps lift you up? Who or what keeps you motivated?

Going skiing or biking, anything active for me—I need that in my life. Going for a drive in the mountains also does the trick. Talking to my sister or a good friend helps, too, even if we’re not talking about much. 

You spend so much time training. What’s your mental and physical process for getting ready and staying fit during ski season?

Physically, preparing for the season it’s all about training, so, when you’re in the middle of the ski season, I’m just focused on injury prevention and recovery. Mentally—that side is huge for me. Life, generally, is just a balance; even with skiing. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. 

Looking ahead to this season, do you have any film shoots planned?

I’m going to just hang out with Josh Berman, take our sleds and travel (as safely as possible) to wherever the snow is flying… probably Jackson, Montana, the Sawtooths in Idaho. I’m just excited for the journey. I’m all new to this and Berman has been around the block once or twice, and he knows so many people. Last year, we were supposed to go on a heli-skiing trip, a cat-skiing trip, a ten-day park shoot—and it all got cancelled. I’m just excited to go with the flow. 

What’s the one thing you can say right now about the upcoming documentary?

Just wait—I’m so excited. I can’t even describe to you… Bring on the powder, bring on massive cliffs. I want to go big. I just want to show people that things are possible.