He was injured in March, by November he was back on the mountain, and the following year he to shredding on a sit ski.
“It quickly became an opportunity to get into racing, and ski for my county in the games in Vancouver 2010 and again in Soji in 2014.”
Over the next decade, Josh would rack up a host of accolades, including winning the 2007 Canadian Championships, a spot in the 2008 World Cup circuit squad and then winning the 2009 World Championships.
By 2010 he was a Paralympic silver medallist.
Prior to his injury he had no idea what life as paraplegic would look like. He remembers seeing a kid in a wheelchair at the liquor store one day, picking up a box of beers, the same as him.
“I couldn’t even look at him, what a shitty life. I was convinced if it happened to me I would park my wheelchair in front of a train and make it look like an accident, life is not worth living in that kind of way.”
But when he had his accident, his mind-set totally changed. Back in 2004, there was no YouTube or Facebook to turn to for inspiration, so for Josh, his saviour was someone from his own community, a fellow wheelchair user who offered up the use of his second sit ski.
“He said he was happy to support whatever I wanted to do, he really compounded on my doctor’s words of wisdom and projection of hope.”
After a video of him doing a backflip from a sit ski went viral, Josh ended up on the Ellen DeGeneres show, with around 500 million people tuning into his story.
Thus, began his journey in the spotlight. Coming from a family who loved quiet time and nature, the prospect of celebrity was not exactly palatable. But Josh, not one to turn down a challenge, chose to embrace it.
“I wanted to do something altruistic with it, use it as a platform to communicate a message of hope to others going through a difficult time.”
He keeps busy by being involved in several different organisations including High Fives Foundation, the Rick Hansen Foundation, Wings for Life, Live it Love it, and Spinal Cord injury BC.
“The focus is common in that we provide experiences outdoor experiences for people that have recently sustained life altering or spinal cord injury. That could be anything from surfing, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, just spending time outdoors and that sensation that we all get when we’re outside in nature, fresh air and exercising.”
He believes one of the challenges people in the adaptive community face is a lack of accessibility and visibility in outdoor areas.
“There should be policies in place, so parks are positioning themselves in a way to be universally accessible and then also signage so parks and outdoor areas that are accessible for all people are well known. In general, if I was going to a place that I didn’t know I would like to have TripAdvisor jump on board and give me a map of what accessibility means and, and where I can go.”
After 10 years as a sports star, Josh became renowned for his proficiency on the mountains. It was his goal to be in the mountains every day – or as much as he possibly could.
“It was just living the dream.”
But as he looks back now on his 10-year career as a sports celebrity, hindsight is a very fine thing, as he realises his focus and dedication drove him to selfishness at times.
“I don’t know how my wife put up with me for the last 15 years.”
He was training intensely for the Soji games, when his daughter was born 2013.
“I couldn’t see the beauty for what it was. My wife asked me for one specific little thing, ‘can you take the baby, I’m exhausted’ and I just said ‘no, I’m training downhill tomorrow, that’s dangerous, I need my sleep.’”