Twenty Two – Hamish Duncan
Back in the day I used to live religiously by snowboard magazines. Every month making the trip to the shops to pick up Snowboard UK, Whitelines & Onboard. Essentially 3 monthly bibles which shaped everything around my life at that point. Which tricks were going down, which riders are coming through, places to go, people to meet. Through that time I essentially had an idol in Danny Wheeler who has a style all his own, and I wanted to do every trick he did. Cab spins off the toes were the jam and so once I was in a place to learn those, that was my focus.
Another rider who came through the magazines was Hamish Duncan, someone who had come through the dry slope world and just had the most amazing style ever. Much like my ode to Danny do cab 7s, when Hamish was doing fronside 7 mutes, they were kind of the way I wanted to do them. Hamish was doing really well in terms of coverage, getting known across Europe both in magazines and contests. Unfortunately one day in 2004 in Val D’isere he miss hit the jump and dropped 3 stories to flat, breaking his back.
So when Hamish reached out around his new project I certainly wanted to spread the word because as I have said here before, no matter where we are all in the world snowboarding is like an extended family. But secondly because his interview really struck a chord with me as I’ve been through injuries and dealt with the non physical issues that come with that too and of course because the interview was with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) I can’t say enough good things around them because of the work that they have done in the name of Nelson Pratt.
Read more on his Kickstarter
Injuries are an unfortunate thing that 90% of people who snowboard to a decent level seem to have to deal with. Just amongst the group of friends I rode with we had a broken neck (me), two broken backs (Hamish & Sonia Shaw), multiple ACLS, and hundreds of broken collar bones. There are way more, but we’d be here forever.
For me, I broke the joint between 3 & 4 in my neck (I think, its so damn long ago now) and chipped the bone in both. I had to have an operation going in through my neck at the front, move the wind pipe, take bone from my hip, wrap the affected bones in that and then cover it with two plates and 4 screws. Much like Hamish I was riding better than I ever had before and just took off a jump wrong and flew off the side, landed on ice and had this crazy pain in my left arm. I thought at that time I had broken my collar bone or arm. It was only after going to the hospital and being checked out but asking for a second opinion did they find the piece in my neck which was damaged. 6 weeks in a neck brace followed by 6 months of rehab was quite the wake up call to look after myself better. Would it have helped? I don’t know, but it can’t hurt. Snowboarding again after that and worrying about turning was quite the experience. After like 2 weeks I remember following Kingsnorth off some tiny jumps and feeling like I’d never snowboard the same again. Did I? Well, probably not fully, but it was at a time I was beginning to start working anyways so probably helped me inform my career path. Its more the feeling of knowing that you won’t have those same experiences of flinging yourself off the biggest jump in the park which was the downer for me.
I was so lucky though as other friends haven’t been nearly so lucky losing the ability to walk or in Hamish’s case, his issues with his PTSD which is really eye opening as I never imagined that would be a result of an injury.
With injuries I had one time where I suffered mentally though. I had broken my arm in the states, and got yet more metal put in my body. After 18 months we took it out, and I don’t know whether it was the anesthetic or something else, but after they took the plate out I couldn’t stop getting emotional at the slightest thing. I know it was the same day that Gary Speed the Welsh Manager had left us also, and so everything for the next 2 weeks felt like a crushing blow.
So whats my point with this?
Well the way I look at it, I got off lightly from snowboarding. I walked away mind in tact and body in decent shape although the way I complain about my hip and back from time to time people at work would argue otherwise. But Hamish is working on a kick starter for a project around his photography which has seemingly helped him get back on track and given him a creative outlet to help him channel his take on the world, which despite my lack of blogging recently I can really understand. Sometimes its just the need to create and put your own take on the world. I’m going to do my bit and pay my good luck forward, and would urge more to do the same.
There was also one other thing I read from Hamish which really resonated with me, around crying on a chairlift after hitting a jump.
My story is slightly different but I think speaks to the spirituality that we can all find within a passion that we have.
Last year on May 17th, which is my mums birthday, we went to the coast to have a fire for her and celebrate her life as she passed away earlier in the year. I was with Sani Alibabic who paddled out, I was playing with my son and taking pictures and was taking a picture of Sani paddling out. At the moment two whales swam past him. He didn’t even see them but this photo shows it clearly and so since that moment surfing has almost taken on another level for me, not just a passion but also a connection to a greater being. Yes that sounds weird, but I’m sure anyone who has been through their own personal grief has similar experiences. This is the image….
So take a look at Hamish further here with the interview with CALM.
This is his Kickstarter again
and whilst on the subject of Calm, please take a listen to this interview with Marcus Chapman a trustee of the charity and all round great guy from Matt Barr on his series we look sideways.