Whether he was rooping around on his mini bike in the field in front of the house or sneaking into my older sister’s bedroom to make out with her, Trevor Snowdin was the daredevil of my neighborhood. By the late 80s he’d picked up snowboarding and was pushing the envelope by jumping off the roofs of three-story condos. In 1989 he was featured in Totally Board, the first of nine Standard Films TB movies. Trevor also rapped in MDP’s New Kids On The Twock and Pocahontas. During the 90s, Trevor had several sponsors and was actively pursuing professional snowboarding. In 1997, while competing in a big-air contest, Trevor cleared the landing of a big-air jump and although he landed clean, the force of the flat landing was enough to severe his T12 vertebra, paralyzing him from the waist down. It’s now the Year 2000, and Trevor’s back doing crazy stunts-this time, though, he’s doing it on four wheels.
What was going on in your life right before you were injured?
I’d just been kicked off my home mountain for doing backflips in their park. It was at the time when people were trippin’ on the whole going inverted thing. I asked them, “How are you gonna allow backflips in contests you throw, when you don’t let people practice them in the park?” And all they came back with was that I could practice rodeo flips, but not backflips. I didn’t see any difference between the two, you’re inverted on both, so I kept doing backflips. I didn’t think I was burning bridges, but they saw things different and pulled my pass. Then what?
I moved up to Portland to try to be in this dude Dan Pozniak’s band, he was the original guitar player for Seven Seconds, but I didn’t make it in ’cause I suck at singing. It couldn’t have been any worse. I joined a church, but it ended up being a cult, so that’s when I decided to give up on snowboarding and man-made religion. I was just about to get a job at Carl’s Junior when I got a call saying that a spot had opened up on a big-air tour and I could fill it if I wanted to. Trevor’s injury happened on the first jump on the first stop of the tour. He didn’t know how much speed he needed when he first tried to hit the jump. He guesstimated, dropped in, and spun a backside 360, overshot the landing, and landed completely flat.
What was going through your head after you landed?
I thought I was gonna die-I’d never been in so much pain. I felt those tingly pins and needles first in my legs and then in my arms. I thought I’d just lie there for a minute, then get up and walk away. I’d always thought of snowboarding as a blow-your-knee-out kinda of sport-I never thought about the possibility of breaking my spine. I was strapped to a backboard and taken by ambulance to the hospital, X-rayed, put under, and operated on.
What was the first thing you remember after waking up?
I remember waking up to all these nurses calling my name: “Trevor, Trevor, wake up.” Then a doctor walked in and said, “Mr. Snowdin, we’ve operated on you and we’ve concluded that you are paralyzed from the waist down.”
Are you haunted by those words?
No, they’re not haunting. But you know what my first words were? “What about my dick?” and the doctor sort of chuckled.
What did he say?
He said being paralyzed from the waist down might be a problem. Then I just started to laugh.
Why did you laugh?
‘Cause I’d been such a man-whore before. After the accident, I had no choice but to be celibate.You’re still a dawg, though. Yeah, a neutered dog.But it takes balls to jump that bike of yours.
Yeah, I just don’t feel them when I land.You always said you originally got into snowboarding because you could express yourself as an individual-there was no team you needed to follow, the only limitations were those you put on yourself. What inspired you to get on a 4×4 mountain bike a wheelchair hybrid designed for off roading the first time? It was when Palmer came to visit me in the hospital during my rehab. He told me abbout how he saw some 4×4 mountain bikers at some contest he’d been at and how he thought I should get into it. Basically, he gave me a whole new dream and then he straight bought me my first 4×4 mountain bike. It gives me a feeling of extreme independence. I’ve been clocked going down fire roads at 35-plus miles per hour, and I’m starting to hit bigger and bigger jumps.
Is there a message you want to convey to people?
I’d like to inspire contest organizers to have more safety in big-air jumps so that riders don’t need to gamble with speed. Also, I’d like to encourage people who’ve been hurt, whether it was in an extreme sport or not, that there is a venue in which they can keep up with the progression in sports by getting involved in something like 4×4 mountain biking. Even if your injuries aren’t as deabilatating as mine, say a blown knee, busted ankle, or a broken leg, it shouldn’t stop you from trying. Just because this sport was started by people who are handicapped, it doesn’t mean we discriminate against those who aren’t.
You can see Trevor in Torque issue one, New World Disorder, and The Trevair Documentary. Trevor would like to thank the people who’ve inspired him through the years and his sponsors: No Fear, Fox Shox, Hayse Breaks, Troy Lee Designs, Maxxis Tires, and Sun Rims. Be on the lookout for the new 4×4 mountain bike Trevor and Jan Karpiel Designs are debuting later this year. For more information on 4×4 mountain biking e-mail Trevor at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Trevor Snowdin P.O. Box 17404 South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151.