I cannot urge you enough to watch this movie/documentary. The Crash Reel is about Kevin Pearce, an aspiring U.S. Olympic snowboarder who crashed while training, 49 days before the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The film wasn’t available in Canada until very recently and I watched it for the first time last night. I’m so glad I did.
Of course the similarities between Kevin’s crash and my crash are not identical, nor are the situations surrounding them. Still, the way he feels is very close to the way I feel, especially when he’s talking to his family at the dinner table about how he recognizes that there are risks, but he just wants to take those risks and whatever happens, happens (I’m paraphrasing). The situation differs again here. I was not a real risk taker the way Kevin was. Sure, I liked riding my bike downhill and taking turns quickly, but I wasn’t doing flips and corkscrews in a half pipe – I have never been on a snowboard and have probably only been skiing fewer than 5 times.
I don’t know the feeling Kevin got from snowboarding, something he dedicated his life to, but I know his frustration and disappointment when he thought he’d be back at snowboarding soon after, and his realization (not acceptance) that he’ll have to do things differently. That he can no longer enjoy sports in the same way. That part is still very difficult for me, and my bike crash and traumatic brain injury was ten years ago. Near the end of the movie, Kevin is shaking his head, laughing at himself and about how he thought that getting pack to competitive snowboarding was really going to happen. I had been in hospital and rehabilitation for four or five months, not yet able to walk, and I thought I’d be going on long runs, back on my bike and playing water polo in another four or five months.
It’s an entirely new learning experience. Your teenage years are spent developing the skills you have and finding out what you like. Then, after a brain injury, you go through the same steps again, but now you have impairments that inhibit or preclude a skill from being developed. So, although you know you like the sport, you aren’t able to enjoy the sport nor the camaraderie that comes with it. You’re also not a teenager anymore, so there’s life and time to think about.
I really hope people see this movie and with it don’t see only the risks taken leading up to the crash, but also the challenges faced by Kevin and his family, and the hard work and perseverance that are needed.