bi-ski xgames superpipe

Eyes on the coping. I’m the first adaptive athlete to ever have this view of the X Games Superpipe

What I love most about photography is how it teases you with a millisecond of a story that’s entirely dependent on memory or imagination to fully understand its context. Depending on the relationship one has with the photo this either makes you a co-conspirator or a creator; remembering how the story went or imagining how it did.

The photo you see here may or may not mean anything to most of you. In fact depending on who you are, and your affinity for certain activities, you might not have a clue as to what you’re looking at. Not really.

To be fair — and I’m very close to this one (I’d be credited as photographer if it wasn’t a GoPro frame burst) — it’s not a great photo. Not by aesthetic standards, anyway. The framing, color etc. are haphazard at best. But it’s a photo that moved me to no end when I came across it. So it’s perfect.

It brought back and represented the one obsession that never dissipated after I broke my neck — the chase of vert. That feeling of weightlessness where you’re entirely in the moment seeing your lines before they happen.

If you’re a surfer, skater, snowboarder or pipe skier, your eyes were most likely drawn to the coping/lip in the photo, and your body probably twitched instinctually over what it would do next; how and where you would draw your own line.

I know mine did. It’s cell memory. And I’m paralyzed.

If you’re not any of the above enthusiasts, take my word for it, it’s a very cool feeling. Something one might even  obsess over for, say, oh I don’t know, 30 years or so and feel compelled to chase again and again and again once they’ve had a little taste.

How I got to this spot — able to snap this photo and share it with you — is a long, winding, serendipitous road. Some of you know the journey, some of you don’t. If you’re one of the latter, let’s just say it took a bit of time and didn’t happen without the help of a lot of people (Brian, Travis, Roy, High Fives, etc.). A lot of incredible, beautiful, giving, stoked people.

And so there you have it; a picture worth, well, 410 words.


For broader context and extra credit:


X games Superpipe: Stylee Quadriplegic Carving from Tony Schmiesing on Vimeo.


Tony Schmiesing | Chasing Vert, The Holy Grail from HighFivesFoundation on Vimeo.

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