Winter Park’s Trevor Kennison rouses filmgoers with ‘Full Circle’ movie tour
‘Full Circle’ is currently being shown around the world
Everyone loves a story that centers around growth, and Level 1 has documented two stories of post-traumatic growth in a film featuring Winter Park resident Trevor Kennison and Barry Corbet — the namesake of Corbet’s Couloir at Jackson Hole Ski Resort.
Originally from Keene, New Hampshire, Kennison moved out to Colorado in 2013 in order to snowboard and work as a plumber. After a season enjoying the extreme snowboarding terrain that the Rocky Mountains have to offer, Kennison’s life changed forever on a snowy early winter day.
On Nov. 15, 2014, Kennison was out enjoying the day out in the backcountry on Vail Pass with a group of friends. With a jump set amid scarce base coverage, Kennison followed behind two of his friends when he immediately caught an edge on the jump, which sent him sprawling through the air.
“I was flying through the air like a superman,” Kennison said of the event. “I tucked my neck, I didn’t want to land on my neck. I landed like a taco and shattered T11, T12 of my spinal cord, and I dislocated my back and punctured my spinal cord.”
Paralyzed from the waist down, Kennison laid in the snow beneath the jump for hours, waiting for rescuers amid blizzard-like conditions. Once he was transported to the hospital and was able to grasp the extent of his injuries, Kennison faced uncertainty as he started to go through the rehabilitation process to relearn how to walk and navigate life in a wheelchair.
“Right in the hospital it was learning how to do a wheelie, how to take a (pee) again, learn how to drive,” Kennison said. “All these things. Once I figured those things out, I took that and realized that no one is going to do it for you. Do it yourself.”
From that moment forward, Kennison said he has lived with at least a small goal in mind, and as a result has steadily reached small and big milestones along the way. Taking up the advice of a close mentor, Kennison eventually got to the point in his recovery where he was able to pick up new sports.
After trying the activity out on a whim, Kennison specifically took to sit-skiing quite well and it was not long before he had the strength and skill to once again fly high into the air.
Since mastering the sport, Kennison has made history on several fronts. In 2019, Kennison showed up as an unknown amateur at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and became the first sit-skier to launch into the ski resort’s infamous Corbet’s Couloir at the Kings and Queens competition.
The flip in Corbet’s Couloir then set Kennison up for his debut at the 2022 Winter X Games where he became the first adaptive athlete to hit the big air jump which is 70 feet from the lip to the knuckle.
“Everyone has told me no from day one out of the hospital, ‘You can’t do that, you can’t do this because you might get hurt, or pressure sores or whatever the case,'” Kennison said. “Putting my head down and working hard and showing what is possible through my sport and who I am as a person gives a lot of hope for people in adaptive sports.”
In the wake of Kennison’s athletic feats, murmurs of a documentary film series started to be floated by Kennison to film director Josh Berman with Level 1 in the fall of 2019. Kennison says he brought up the idea of him returning to the site of his injury on Vail Pass in order to perform a double backflip.
Berman was all for the film idea and was there when Kennison soared above where he broke his back and stomped what Level 1 claims is the world’s first double backflip in a sit-ski.
The filming session in the backcountry on Vail Pass blew Berman away, but progress being made towards the film came to a halt at the start of the pandemic a few weeks later.
“The whole world shut down and we were supposed to do a lot of live-action filming,” Kennison said. “It was kind of a blessing in disguise because we found out about Barry Corbet’s story through a mutual friend and it was just so incredible. The film kind of morphed into this way bigger story than me.”
After breaking his back in a helicopter crash in 1968, Corbet became a trailblazer in the disability community, paving the way for Kennsion to live to his fullest after his own back injury.
With old video footage and audio files captured by Corbet, “Full Circle” was truly drawn together, displaying a well-rounded story of growth after a traumatic event.
Beyond Kennison landing a double backflip, the film also delves deep into the more raw realities of navigating life after a traumatizing injury.
“The hardest part of the movie was my vulnerability of the sexual functions, talking about bowel and bladder, taking a s*** on camera,” Kennison said. “Talking about the hard truths. A lot of people will comment, ‘I applaud you for doing that.’ I wanted to be as real as possible and that is what we did.”
The film has recently been shown at film tours across the world, with Kennison traveling with the film crew to each screening and engaging with viewers after the showing of the film. Kennison has been blown away by the reception of the film. He says he views inspiring disabled and able-bodied viewers as his biggest accomplishment to date.
“I will get people that will comment on (being inspired and motivated) and then ask me a question,” Kennison said. “For me that is by far my biggest accomplishment. It is a full circle of emotions. You get people laughing, crying, serious and clapping. It has been an awesome experience to do all this.”
“Full Circle” is currently being shown in theaters around the world. To find a screening, visit FullCircleFilm.co.
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