The Crash Reel

The Crash Reel, a film by Lucy Walker 


{Kevin Pearce and filmmaker Lucy Walker}

Is there one thing that you love doing so much that you would risk your life to continue doing? The accident Kevin Pearce had in 2009, just months before qualifying for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, lead filmmaker Lucy Walker on a journey to try and answer that question. The Crash Reel is filled with heartache, recovery, hard hitting questions, and inspiration.

After having recently lost a friend close in age to a horrific disease, I have been asking myself a lot of hard hitting questions lately. Am I doing all I can to live each day to the fullest? Is there anything I am not doing because I am afraid of falling and/or failing? What does the saying “you only live once” truly mean to me?

Kevin Pearce was faced with a traumatic brain injury due to his accident while performing a practice run on a half-pipe in Park City, Utah. He was perusing his dream of being the best snowboarder in the world. At an early age he started competing and his snowboarding career took off, along the way creating a rivalry between his nemesis Shaun White. Kevin’s accident left him in a coma fighting for his life and Shaun on the winners podium at the 2010 Olympics.

Walker’s style of filmmaking paralleled the boundaries pushed in Kevin’s recovery. Her love of “emotional power”, “visual excitement”, and “cinematic power” are shown throughout the use of archival and vérité footage. She captures moments from Kevin’s older brother David, who has Down Syndrome, who talks about his disability openly and honestly.

Walker’s determination and hard work to source over 11,000 clips of archival footage, to piece together the story; before the crash, the crash itself, and the aftermath of Kevin’s and other extreme sporting accidents, truly became a crash reel. Walker has put a whole new style of filmmaking on the map. Her bravery to show the consequences of extreme sports and the severity of traumatic brain injuries speaks to the strength of the film.

Walker has built a foundation for those of us questioning if we are living out our dreams to the fullest. For me this film, in so many ways, has inspired me to be present in the moment and to continue to challenge myself fully.

Coming to terms with snowboarding being a part of his “life before the accident”, and Kevin Pearce’s tenacity and courage to fight to live a life of normalcy, should be an inspiration to all.

“Breathe in courage, breathe out fear.”




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