Tuscany deep in thought on the chairlift at Alpine Meadows.
Roy Tuscany knows more about anatomy than the average ski bum. Take his rapid-fire responses to a quiz on vertebrate, for example.
Where is the T9? Belly button.
How about the T12? Bottom rib.
Tuscany rattles off these answers over a six-pack of Budweiser in the Last Chair bar at California’s Alpine Meadows on a sunny spring day. He and Steve Wallace—another skier with an intimate knowledge of spinal structure—have just been out skiing for the afternoon. In 2006, Tuscany was training at Mammoth Mountain when a fall left him paralyzed below his T12 vertebrate. Two years later, Wallace fell while skiing on Granite Chief at Squaw Valley, suffering paralysis from T9 and below. Doctors told both men they may never walk again. But Tuscany walked and then skied, and in 2009, he created the nonprofit High Fives Foundation to assist athletes who have suffered a life-altering injury while participating in winter action sports. Wallace is the foundation’s first grant recipient.