In this story, we are fortunate enough to spend some time with mono-skier Trevor Kennison who is sponsored by High Fives Foundation. Trevor got the attention of skiers and riders around the world at last year's Kings and Queens of Corbet in Jackson Hole. He also garnished the attention of snowboarder Travis Rice who helped Trevor gain Instagram followers after his epic landing at the last year's event.
The 2019 OR Show was the first attended by the WHITEPOWDERRUNS crew and believe it or not, the first person that Powderhound spoke to was none other than mono-skier Trevor Kennison. He was in a booth shared by GoPro and the High Fives Foundation. Upon first meeting Trevor, he displayed enthusiasm and a passion whose energy one could feel. His smile was engaging and captivating. The very first statement he said to me was, "I broke my back in the backcountry, and it was the best thing that happened to me." As I listened, I wondered, "How?" And then, I was fortunate enough to meet Trevor and hear his story.
Trevor was riding with friends at Vail Pass, a National Forest that offers an excellent backcountry experience. What appeared to be just another day on the mountain changed Trevor's life. Trevor grew up on the east coast. Being from New Hampshire, Loon Mountain was his first mountain. He caught the bug and moved to Colorado in 2013 to live. And just a year later, on a November day after a dump, his life would change drastically.
After building a jump with his friends and hitting it a couple of times, Trevor described the moment that he broke his back. He says that he was planning on rotating in the air, but his take-off threw him off. Not being able to control his rotation, Trevor landed on his back. When he landed, he heard a snap. Now for those who are unfamiliar, Vail Pass is backcountry terrain accessible by snowmobiles. When you are up in parts of Vail Pass, it can take a snowmobile 15-20 minutes to get to the main entrance. So to paint the picture vividly, Vail Pass is pretty far from any immediate help.
Because of this, Trevor describes when he thought he was going to die — laying on his back, looking up with snow still dumping, and not receiving help for another 3-4 hours. When Trevor told me this, I realized why he is so stoked just about life. It is what we all take for granted. Anytime you are given another chance, you have a reason to smile.
Even though I was initially moved, it didn't hit me how awesome Trevor Kennison is.
After learning a lot about Trevor, the High Five Foundation, and the outdoor sports community that offers him support, I was offered the opportunity to ride with Trevor at Copper Mountain. Even though I heard his story from his mouth, I had never seen him on a mountain, and he quickly changed my expectations of him as I struggled to keep up as he charged down every run. Trevor raced at a speed that made me think about the 22-year-old snowboarder up at Vail Pass in 2014. Yep, that dude was a badass, and Trevor has not relinquished that title as a mono-skier. As Trevor raced at very fast speeds, I could tell that, like me, he was in his happy place. The smile on his face is never-ending on the mountain. And when we hit up the park, that sparkle in his eyes twinkled even more as I watched him scoping the park, looking for intel before launching himself.
And even after this, I was mesmerized, but I still did not fully appreciate Trevor's story even though I thought I did. As the season went on, I watched the world notice Trevor. It was at Jackson Hole at the King's and Queen's of Corbet's that many began to take notice. I remember being on the tram in Heavenly and hearing two skiers speak of Trevor. By now, I was sure that I knew, but I still had so much to learn about Trevor.
And that lesson happened at the end of the year, I was spring riding at Winter Park and I saw Trevor's chair at the bottom of the lift. It was the end of the day, so I decided to wait and say hey to Trevor. And then, I saw him, coming down the mountain. I had been following him on Instagram, so I had been excitingly watching his progression. I did notice that he was trying new things, double rails as well as more rotation in the air on the bigger jumps. I saw the fall on video just like many of his followers, but when I saw him in person, I realized how removed we are from everything. We all have access, but we do not understand. As Trevor rode up, he well-wished me and let me know he was retiring to the locker room. As I watched him break down his gear, I noticed him wincing in pain a little, and then I remembered his rail fall happened a couple of weeks ago. Seeing that he was visibly hurting a little, I offered to help him with his gear to the locker room. It might have been 50 feet, but as I'm carrying the gear, I am thinking how heavy this is and how if I carried this daily, I would look like the Incredible Hulk. And even though I will never get it, I relished in what I love about snowboarding — progression and the good and bad that comes with that.
Hey WHITEPOWDERRUNS. This is Trevor; this is Lanny, the owner of Phunkshunwear.
We’re just here at the OR show. I am just pretty stoked to talk about my love for mono skiing. I broke my back in the backcountry about four years ago. Since then, I’ve been mono-skiing and its literally one of the best things ever. People are like, I’m sorry you broke your back and its a blessing to me that I broke my back because I wouldn’t be mono skiing or doing any of the things I’ve been doing, traveling.
I just got back from Japan, most amazing trip. Literally, I found cliffs and I’m like, I have to hit that. This is my love and my passion for skiing. I already have like 66 days in this year. But yeah man, it makes me so happy. I met these guys two years ago and they custom made a face mask for me saying Colombian wheels.
My mom is from Colombia. Like I said, the support in the community is what I love so much about it. Being a part of a ski company or anything like that. I would say no matter what you’re trying to do ski or anything like if you’re sliding on snow, its the best thing in the world. You know being outside, I’m very thankful in that sense.