Kevin Pearce was a 22-year-old Olympic snowboarding hopeful and one of America’s top riders when, in December of 2009, he attempted a difficult trick in a halfpipe in Park City, Utah, and missed the landing. Pearce hit his head on the lip of the halfpipe and suffered a traumatic brain injury that rerouted his trajectory, forcing the rising star down an unfamiliar path of rehabilitation, recovery and reconsideration of his life’s passion. Lucy Walker’s documentary, The Crash Reel, follows Pearce and his tight-knit family through the demanding journey of physical rehab, returning to the slopes and coming to terms with risk. Pearce, a 2014 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, speaker and advocate for the prevention of traumatic brain injuries, has since launched Love Your Brain, a social action campaign aimed and preventing brain injuries through education. He came to Telluride last week to screen the film a couple of time and shared a few words after his experience in town:
Recently, I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in Telluride with my man David Holbrooke (Mountainfilm’s festival director) to screen my film, The Crash Reel, twice. The film played at Mountainfilm last year, but this was my first time in town with snow on the ground. Last year, I had the best time at Mountainfilm, so the place had a lot to live up to, but as soon as I saw the mountain and town in winter, I had no doubt that it would be amazing.
I flew from Denver, after coming off the Burton U.S. Open in Vail, and was met by Peter Kenworthy (Mountainfilm’s executive director) at the airport. Mountainfilm lined up the sickest little apartment right on main street, where he dropped me off and it was on. Mid-March, tons of snow, great weather and an amazing group of people! For everyone who has not had a chance to visit Telluride, I would highly recommend making the trip. I have been fortunate enough to travel all around the world, and Telluride is, with out a doubt, one of the most special places I have ever been.
My schedule was light, so I had time to chill and do a little yoga that first afternoon. One of the best things about Telluride is how small it is: The next morning, I got up, walked downstairs and around the corner, where I found a perfect little coffee shop with the best breakfast ever and was on my way. Day one was mellow. I cruised around town for a bit, then met up with David. He linked me up with my cousin, Max Cooper, who works at a bike shop. Max has gotten the town hooked on bikes with monster tires that you can ride in the snow or in the woods. They're kinda like a mountain bike on steroids. I was a little nervous at first, but I knew they wouldn't take me anywhere too crazy. I was itching to get some exercise, and it was the most perfect day. We cruised up this back trail know as Bear Creek. Telluride is at high altitude, and I wasn't adapted, so it was damn hard but really fun to be outside, up in the mountains and in such a beautiful place.
You can see from the photo how big the tires on these bikes are. They can pretty much go anywhere. It's way fun, even on mellow trails. We had a great ride down, followed by a tasty dinner with David and the fam.
Day 2, I woke up and was really excited ‘cause I was gonna get to show the film to the entire Telluride High School. I've been lucky enough to show this film at numerous film festivals, but this was by far the most special screening yet. You can see in the photo that all the kids were pretty excited and had amazing energy. They also posed the best questions I have ever been asked! David came up on stage and helped me answer some of the questions that the kids stumped me on. It truly was a night that I will never forget.
The next day was my chance to get up on the mountain and ride. Telluride is insane, tons of terrain and very few people. It was a gorgeous warm day with lots of soft snow, and we had a blast. Then it was time for round two: The second screening was open to the public and, to be honest, I was a bit nervous that nobody was gonna show up. But the Mountainfilm team did an exceptional job promoting the film, and we had a full house. W ended the night with a live auction of a Love Your Brain* bowl that designed by my Dad, Simon Pearce. The bowl ended up going for $900, and whoever won it is gonna be psyched because we will send them signed by both me and my dad.
I met some really cool people and had a great time in Telluride, all thanks to the Mountainfilm crew. I particularly liked the Free Box. Next up for me is NYC! Wish me luck, and follow @loveyourbrain on Instagram/Twitter and Facebook to stay up with everything going on.
— Kevin Pearce
*Ever since my injury, we’ve started a movement called Love Your Brain. I'm spreading the word with my speaking engagements, and you can learn more at www.kevinpearce.com or www.loveyourbrain.com. The plan is to raise money, awareness and help others dealing with brain injuries and circumstances like mine.