Thursday, 30 January 2014

Let the Games Begin!


Let the Games Begin!

             As corny as it may sound, it seems a fitting opening sentence given that the Sochi Winter Olympics Games are just a week away and that life is the ultimate “Game” that we're all playing for keeps.  Of course not everyone gets the opportunity to become an Olympian.  I came close though, as the Calgary Winter Olympics were squarely placed on my personal radar especially considering that the aerials event (my forte) were to become for the first time ever a demonstration sport in 1988.  Flash back to 1985, with three World Cups victories and more than 40 titles under my belt I was truly a World Contender and an “Olympic Hopeful”.

1976 "Big Back Tuck"
Flip - Mt. Cascades
Quebec, Canada  
Welcome to “Mike’s QuadRant” and my first official blog written at the tender age of 52 years, 10 months and 30 days old.  When you start to break down time into years, then months and finally into days you begin to grasp the magnitude of time and the finite role each of us plays in this vast, busy and complicated world before we run out of time and the torch is passed on.  I have always had a love for writing and for archiving certain aspects of my life, people, events and places that I felt were important enough to cherish, record and share with others.  From age 15 I kept a thorough scrapbook of all my sporting achievements including victories, losses and even some of the day-today minutia that seemed to take its rightful place in the continuum of my life’s story.  It seems somewhat fitting to want to share my life’s highs and lows at this middle age when a considerable amount of time is now “under the bridge” and a brand new considerable amount of time still awaits in my future.

1979 "Realistic Cup" Canadian
National Championships
Sunshine, Banff, Alberta

To say I’ve received my fair share of the proverbial “15 minutes of fame” would be a huge understatement.  Since winning my 1st Junior Canadian Freestyle Skiing National Championship in 1976 (1st of 4 Shell Cups) and joining the ranks of the World Cup circuit to breaking my neck at age 24 and driving unassisted around the world in 2001, it seems like I was always being interviewed, quoted or featured in numerous local, national and international media.  In fact my life’s story has been the subject of 6 international documentary films and programs, numerous articles and news clippings and even made its way into a variety of books chronicling some of my accomplishments.  But, that is precisely why I feel compelled to write at this point in my life to tell my story from my first person’s perspective.

Throughout the next 12 months I will share personal stories, anecdotes, news clippings, magazine articles, photos, audio programs and video postings that run the gamut of emotions from setting monumental goals, experiencing amazing natural highs and achieving the loftiest of dreams to enduring unfathomable loss, subjected to abuse, discrimination, alienation, criticism and mischaracterizations while living a highly dependent and constant daily routine with chronic debilitating pain.  A tough existence … definitely; a roller coaster ride to be sure; a life well lived, absolutely. When I look in the mirror I see a man who has lived life to the fullest; a flawed character; a perpetual fighter and an eternal optimist … check, check, check and check again.                

1971 "Nepean Knights"
Ontario Junior Lacrosse
In order to tell my whole story I will be going right back to my early upbringing as the middle child in a young aspiring immigrant family settling into Canada at age 4.  I will take you on a stroll through the formative year’s right through to my first taste of sporting victory becoming the Ontario Junior Lacrosse Champions at age 10.  I will impart some of the character development which eventually led me into choosing to excel in an individual sport and why I opted to pursue the emerging sport of freestyle skiing as a combined athlete competing in all three disciplines of Ballet, Moguls and Aerials.  As one of the winningness Canadian amateur skiers of all time I had the good fortune to be smack on the cusp of an evolving sport which saw us young pioneers compete as amateurs qualifying to join the elite ranks of the professionals and then return again to amateurs in order to gain International Olympic Committee status.

           I'll take you back to the build-up of deciding to compete for Great Britain, the obstacles and opportunities of competing for a non-alpine nation and eventually becoming Britain’s most successful skier of all time.  I’ll share with you the methodical and strategic planning, the indomitable work ethic, fierce determination and constant desire needed to win my first of three world cups, two European Championships, multiple Europa Cups and 5 British Championship titles.  We’ll continue the ride through the ups and downs of impending stardom through roles in a variety of feature films, numerous TV commercials and appearances, photo shoots, ski shows and endorsements in the early years of sport and sponsorship.
You’ll be witness to how my life changed forever when in 1985 at the age of 24 and ranked third in the world I had an accident on the trampoline breaking my neck at the 4/5 cervical vertebrates and instantly becoming a high level quadriplegic losing all my cherished physicality, freedom and independence.  You will literally go on an emotional roller coaster with me over the fight to survive and the need to set new goals and change my entire view of a reality and future that I never planned for.  You’ll understand why I firmly believe that the true hidden ability to thrive is not on the outside nor tangible but it is on the inside, it is intangible … it is mind, heart and soul that we must all rely on in order to find true peace of mind, to set larger-than-life goals and find ultimate and lasting satisfaction and happiness.

I invite you to join me in this exciting voyage to find out what makes me tick … after all I’m just as excited about the outcome for my own life as you are for yours.  My last chapters are yet to be written because they are unfolding in the moment.  We all have only one life to live regardless of circumstances. If you’ve ever felt doubt, had monumental setbacks and overwhelming obstacles to overcome yet still held onto the belief that it’s going to get better and that we’re all destined for greatness … then we are already kindred spirits.
Welcome to Mike’s QuadRant!


  1. Mike. Thanks for sharing. It is good for us to hear your story. I'm very proud of you.

    Your neighbour. Dale

    1. Dale, Thanks. I appreciate your kind and supportive words of encouragement. Good luck with the development of your film. Mike

  2. Hi Mike, I loved hearing YOU through your story. A magnum opus appropriate for the life lived to the hilt! You are a true wordsmith and I look forward to reading more. Love Sarah x

    1. Hi Sarah, Could you forward me your email. I had sent Colin M. a couple of emails without a reply and I wanted to forward these to you. Love, Mike x

  3. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for your warm and uplifting feedback on my opening blog. Coming from you ... my coach, advocate and dear friend means so much. I heard from Eaveman that you had a great time hanging out in Fiji ... you do get around! FYI, I will be continually posting my blogs at the end of every month and look forward to hearing your thoughts ... no holds barred!

    Lots of love, Mike x

  4. Hey Mike, what a great read. From us all at Back Up, we think you are amazing. Keep up the great work and we look forward to reading the next installment.

  5. Hi Louise,

    Thanks for taking the time to read to 1st foray into the world of the "Blogger"! Your kind and supportive words are much appreciated ... I need all the encouragement I can get. All the Back Up social media sites are looking better each and every day ... it's a great team effort under your inclusive, consistent and innovative leadership. Kudos!

  6. Fantastic - the impact of The Back Up Trust at the time in early 90's still runs strong in my heart. Love, Angus.

  7. Angus, thanks for the positive feedback. I'm continually amazed at how Back Up has grown and flourished into a major charity helping so many with SCI in so many various areas.

  8. Hey Nemo. just read it all. Very well written. Waiting for the next installment.

  9. mike do you remember the mount cascade freestyle team


About Me

My photo

Skiing and Film Career:


At age 15, Mike Nemesvary set his goal to become the best freestyle skier in the world.  By the mid 1980's he held more than 40 titles in his sport including 3 World Cup Victories; 18 World Cup Podiums; 3 European; 11 Canadian and 5 British Championships.  Mike also developed a successful sideline as a skier and stunt performer in a number of television commercials, programs and feature films including James Bond’s “A View to a Kill” and Willy Bogner’s “Fire and Ice.” 


Spinal Cord Injury:


On May 18th, 1985 Mike’s life dramatically changed during a routine trampoline workout when he attempted a double twisting, double back somersault and blacked-out, landing on his neck instantly becoming a high level quadriplegic, paralysed from the chest down and losing full use of his legs, arms and hands.  Following months of intensive rehabilitation Mike picked up the pieces and began to rebuild his life.  He moved into an accessible home, learned to drive a modified sports car and became a proficient sit skier.  Wanting to share his life-affirming approach he started “The Back Up Trust”; a very successful UK-Based charity raising more than $20 million to enable people with spinal cord injuries to reintegrate back into society and surpass their aspirations by facilitating challenging sports.


Speaking Career and Disability Advocacy:


After completing his post-secondary education in Commerce, Mike developed and honed his skills to become a passionate, powerful and outspoken disability advocate.  He has represented many Not-For-Profit organizations including: World Committee on Disability; March of Dimes; Tetra Society of North America and National Access Awareness Week.  In 1992 he formed Mike Nemesvary & Associates and enjoys a successful and rewarding career as a professional speaker presenting 100's of keynotes, seminars and workshops to local, national and international organizations.  Some of his prestigious clients include: Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company; General Motors Corporation; Bell Canada; National Research Council; Canada Customs and Revenue Agency; Health Canada and the Canadian Injury Prevention Foundation.


‘Round the World Challenge:


Mike then decided to take the ultimate challenge by becoming the first quadriplegic to drive unassisted around the world.  More than 7 years in development, the ‘Round the World Challenge was a grueling circumnavigation lasting 7 months, through 20 countries and clocking more than 40,000 kilometres.  While navigating some of the most treacherous roads, enduring the most extreme weather conditions and temperatures on the planet, Mike also surmounted continual inaccessible stops and accommodations in an unrelenting, exhausting daily schedule.  During the formidable odyssey, Mike also managed to visit 40 medical institutions, gave 52 speaking engagements and wrote weekly columns.  The ‘Round the World Challenge successfully culminated in the Fall of 2001 and raised more than $1.5 million for spinal cord injury rehabilitation and research. His accomplishments received numerous honours and recognition in many countries including the “Key to the City” in Ottawa and the “Meritorious Service Medal” from the Governor General of Canada.


Personal Life:


Mike’s remarkable life has been extensively chronicled as the subject of six international and award winning television documentaries in addition to numerous magazine, newspaper articles, radio interviews and television appearances.  Mike presently resides south of Ottawa with his Partner, Mary Anne McPhee and “Sassy” and “Jigger”, both Labrador Retrievers “Certified Assistance Dogs”.  In his spare time Mikes enjoys sit-skiing, scuba diving, swimming, writing, backgammon, listening to music and playing the harmonica.