Blog

the next chapter

Dear Canada,

To live a life of adventure is my wildest dream come true.

I’ve had the incredible honour of representing our beautiful country at events all over the world, including the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.  Being Canada’s Flag Bearer at the Closing Ceremonies of the Sochi Paralympics was an extraordinary feeling and something that will forever live on through me.

soc14_cer_closing_mm_69

Preparing for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics as a member of the Canadian Para-Alpine Team was an incredible experience, and competing on home soil in the presence of friends and family was beyond words. For me, the 2010 Games were simply a goal to work towards after breaking my back in 2004, a reason to move forward.  After the Paralympics I continued racing because it gave me the opportunity to ski full-time, but my passion for competition was beginning to fade.  While my body was on-course, my heart was off piste.

The Sit-Ski Backflip That Restored My Passion

On February 3, 2012 together with a group of friends, my dream of creating something new and exciting culminated with the first-ever the sit-ski backflip.  While I could never have anticipated it, this momentous event launched me from the soft snow of the Whistler backcountry, onto The Ellen Degeneres Show. This reignited my passion for skiing and helped me refocus on the goal of competing for Canada in Sochi 2014.

backie-p-Paul-Morrison-e1349911449386

Another project that captured my full attention was the redesign of the sit ski, in partnership with Alpine Canada and Own the Podium.  The research and development phase was so intense; it tested every ounce of my capacity. It was literally in the final hours before the Sochi Games that we finally struck the balance we had been working towards.

And it paid off in my confidence, helping me win a Paralympic gold and silver for Canada.

The life of a ski racer is extremely fun, totally exhilarating and pretty scary at times.  To be your best is an incredible commitment of time and energy.  My priorities are no longer what they once were, I no longer dream of being the fastest skier in the world.

The dream has changed and taken shape of a little girl, my daughter, Nova and my beautiful wife, Lacey.  So, the time has come to retire from competition and redirect my energy on family, community and new adventures.

Dueck-21

My greater vision is to continue to live a life filled with adventure, sharing my passion for overcoming challenges and my love for our natural environment.  We all share an instinct for adventure and if we don’t find healthy, productive ways to release our natural curiosities, then we can often find ourselves in destructive patterns.

Storytelling is something I love to do and I hope that in continuing to share my life’s story through various forums, I can continue to inspire and be inspired.

I’m also writing a book in partnership with Dr. John Coleman.  It’s a collection of stories that reveal the truth, suffering and the challenges that I’ve found in life from the moment I found myself in a wheelchair to my journey onto the Paralympic podium.  I never would have thought that with the challenges of paralysis my life would be characterized mostly by love, freedom, and a sense of belonging. I’m excited to share with you the full spectrum of my life experiences.

A Sincere Thanks

There is so much I cherish from my time with the team, from the people that have influenced, challenged and amused me throughout my journey, to the awe-inspiring places that have opened my eyes to the sheer beauty of our planet.  My coaches, multi-marks, therapists, trainers (mental & physical) and teammates have become family over the years and will be missed, but never forgotten.

To all of my sponsors that have supported the dream, thank you.  Your investment in me is deeply appreciated.  The exposure you have provided not only for me but the Paralympic movement has been paramount in increasing awareness of the sport.  I feel fortunate to be able to say that I have had a multitude of sponsors over the years.  To each of you, I am grateful and humbled. I would be remiss if I did not give a special thanks to those who have supported me from the beginning: Alpine Canada, Silver Star Mountain Resort and WorkSafeBC.

They say it takes a community to raise a child.  The same adage rings true for an athlete. My career would not be possible without the love, support and belief of all my friends and family.  It was your collective energy, pulsating through me, that provided the strength and reason as my career evolved.  You enabled me to see what was truly possible. I feel fortunate to have stood on the shoulders of such giants at the big shows in Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.

And to all of the Canadians that have supported and cheered for the Paralympians that represent our country, thank-you for believing in us.

With love and respect.