Josh Dueck is the subject of the film

Dueck rides ‘Freedom Chair’ from Banff to Vernon

Sit-ski champion stars in award-winning film to be screened at Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Vernon Monday.

Josh Dueck is used to being on the podium at international ski events, but the Paralympic sit-skier has found himself on a different kind of stage, make that screen, recently.

With an appearance on the Rick Mercer Show, and a silver medal at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games, Dueck is now the subject of the film, The Freedom Chair, which just won the award for best film on mountain sports at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, held in the Alberta town this past weekend.

And now Dueck’s local supporters will be able to see the film when it joins the lineup for Vernon Search and Rescue’s 20th annual fundraiser, the Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.

The first screening takes place Monday at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

“The social media has been going crazy since his film was released in Banff,” said Suzie Sims, film festival coordinator with Vernon Search and Rescue. “Unfortunately, Josh can’t be here on Monday as he has other commitments, however, his wife Lacey will possibly come on stage to help introduce the film and help us with the draw prizes.”

Directed and produced by Mike Douglas, The Freedom Chair is 15 minutes long and is tentatively scheduled to show just before intermission at Monday’s screening.

The film follows Dueck’s story as a competitive freestyle skier and a coach at Silver Star Mountain, who while demonstrating a jump in 2004, had an accident rendering him a paraplegic. Just nine months later, he was back on the hill.

Dueck has since become an international champion for the Canadian Para Alpine Ski Team, winning the world championships in 2009 and a silver medal in the men’s sitting slalom at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

Despite his comeback and success in the world of competitive sit-skiing, Dueck still dreams about tackling the backcountry and the steepest and wildest mountains in the world. And as the film shows, with his infectious outlook, he may just catch his dream.

The Freedom Chair is one of 10 films to be shown Monday, however, it will be shown again along with more Banff films on Dec. 28 and 29, and the hope is that Dueck will be able to make those screenings, said Sims.

(Vernon Search and Rescue has also made the decision this year to screen all Banff Mountain Film Festival shows at the Performing Arts Centre instead of screening its two December shows at Silver Star Mountain Resort as in the past.)

Next week’s screening will offer more tempting visuals for lovers of the backcountry, whether it be skiing, rock and ice climbing, paddling, avalanche rescue and more. And it all aids Vernon Search and Rescue in purchasing new equipment, updating its existing gear (radios, GPS units, dry-suits, climbing ropes, etc.), and for all-important training upgrades, said Sims.

Other films screening Monday include:

–– Blue Obsession, showing the beautiful and ever-changing icefalls of Alaskan glaciers, which provide a stunning setting for some unusual ice climbing adventures.

–– The winner of the Best Short Mountain Film at Banff, Chasing Water, following Pete McBride, who grew up on a ranch in Western Colorado near the Colorado River. After a life spent visiting other countries to tell stories as a National Geographic photojournalist, McBride decided to follow the river from his family’s ranch to see where it ends up.

–– Reel Rock: Origins – Obe & Ashima about nine-year-old Ashima Shiraishi from New York City who has taken the bouldering (climbing without ropes) world by storm. Guided by her coach and former bouldering star Obe Carrion, this tiny master is crushing competitions and raising the bar for her peers.

–– The winner of best feature-length mountain film, All.I.Can: The Short Cut uses stunning time-lapse sequences, creative visuals, great skiers, and deep powder to look at snow sports and the environment.

–– Another film by Freedom Chair director Mike Douglas, Ski Bums Never Die, asks the questions: “what does it take to be a ski bum? An unending dedication to powder skiing? The ability to do anything in your ski boots? A lifelong quest for deep snow? Find out with this unusual and inspiring band of skiers from the Kootenay region.

–– Whitewater fans can discover an unexpected and new-found love for water, in its frozen and expanded form, in kayaking film Seasons: Winter.

–– Winner of the best film in exploration and adventure, Kadoma is the nickname for Hendri Coetzee, a legendary South African kayaker who is known for exploring some of Africa’s wildest rivers. The film follows American pro kayakers Chris Korbulic and Ben Stookesbury, who with Coetzee traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a first descent of the dangerous Lukuga River.

Seven weeks into the expedition, tragedy struck.

–– Josh Lowell’s Reel Rock: Ice Revolution shows Canadian “maniac” Will Gadd, who after 30 years of ice climbing, finally realized his dream of climbing radically overhanging, heinously difficult ice at B.C.’s spectacular Helmcken Falls.

–– And finally, C.A.R.C.A follows one man’s quest to revolutionize the world of animal avalanche rescue.

All Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour screenings at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at the Ticket Seller, 549-7469,


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