Dueck excited for Hall induction 

Three-time Paralympic medallist embracing life after competition

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MASON MASHON - DUEY DOES IT Josh Dueck will be inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame later this month.
  • PHOTO by Mason Mashon
  • DUEY DOES IT Josh Dueck will be inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame later this month.

In his career, Josh Dueck had to make a number of adjustments.

One major one, of course, was his spinal-cord injury in 2004 that left him injured from the waist down.

But Dueck, now 37, explained his retirement from competition a decade later was an even tougher change as his identity as an athlete was no longer something on which he could rely.

"Transitioning out of sport was an even bigger transition than when I broke my back," he said. "It was a big part of my identity and who I saw myself as."

But everyone is different, of course, so through his work with various non-profits, the para-alpine skier is helping those dealing with either life-altering change to cope. It's part of his drive to give back to the athletic community and beyond.

Dueck, a former Whistler resident, will get the opportunity to reflect on his career on May 31, when he is inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. Whistler ski-cross racer Marielle Thompson is also set to be enshrined, as are former Major League Baseball pitcher Ryan Dempster, former B.C. Lions linebacker Glen Jackson and former Vancouver Canuck star Cliff Ronning. A full list of inductees is available at www.bcsportshalloffame.com.

When the announcement was made in December, Dueck acknowledged it took a little while for the gravity of the honour to hit him.

"At first, I was a little bit overwhelmed. I didn't quite grasp the depth of this recognition," he said. "It feels like a master's degree for me. It's the 25 years of energy that I've put into sport, the sport's given (it) back to me.

"It's one of the greatest compliments that's been given for my time as a skier."

Plenty of Dueck's family will be on hand, as his wife, his parents, his aunt and cousins will all be in attendance at the museum at B.C. Place for the ceremony. Whether it's at the induction or when visitors come to see his display, Dueck hopes the takeaway is that he couldn't have accomplished what he did on his own, crediting his family and friends, coaches and sports psychologist.

"I hope they really see and believe in the power of sport and how it has the capacity to elevate the human spirit well beyond just the physical body," Dueck said.

Dueck's fame ballooned after becoming the first athlete to successfully complete a backflip in a sit ski in 2012. He landed an appearance on Ellen as the video produced by legendary Whistlerite Mike Douglas made the rounds online.

"It's a nice little close-to-home moment in the Whistler backcountry, working with somebody like Mike Douglas who really believes in that concept (of the power of sport)," he said. "I often think of Mike and that crew of people there ... that were onboard. They were diving into that thing as fully as I was."

These days, Dueck is keeping busy, with numerous projects on the go. He attended his first Paralympics post-retirement this March as a reporter for CBC. Dueck, who competed in 2010 and 2014, explains how different of an experience it was, especially as he could soak in more of the atmosphere he had eschewed in favour of focusing on his responsibility of being the best he could for his country.

"It's a bit of a full-circle experience for me, because it's the first time I'd been to a Games of that scale and not (attended) as an athlete," he said. "It's a chance to observe it a little more casually. It was interesting to see the athlete in a different way and that sense of vulnerability they have stepping into the start gate and that sense of accomplishment after their run.

"I don't think I was able to take that in as an athlete as I was as an observer, so it was a great honour to be there.

"(As an athlete), you're not able to fully engage with fans the way that you'd like to, the other investors and people that are just there. I was able to do that on top of my reporting."

Dueck hopes to have the chance to broadcast again in the future, though he doesn't want it to be his primary focus. He's currently working as a public speaker detailing his journey. He finds speaking not only helped his role as a broadcaster, but as an athlete as well.

"I find the two are very similar. Being a keynote speaker is a type of performance; being an athlete, a skier is another type of performance," Dueck said. "Any time you put yourself in a stressful or challenging situation, your body is going to react. If you react to how your body reacts, then you might create some stress or anxiety that's undue and maybe hard to manage."

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