Some Assembly Required

Five days before the 2010 Olympic snowboarding trials, Kevin Pearce slammed his head on a rock-hard wall of halfpipe, suffering severe brain trauma that flipped the script of his life. A return to competition is out of the question—he’s had to relearn how to walk and talk—but that’s not enough to keep him off the mountain.

  1. "I look like a dead man. I look like a fucking corpse."

    Twenty-three-year-old Kevin Pearce is staring at a photo of himself, his body splayed across the bottom of a snowboarding halfpipe. He looks intently at the picture, as if the sight of his fall might help him remember. As if this grainy iPhone image might awaken some long-lost memory, some twinge of what he was thinking just before the right side of his skull slammed into the wall.

    But Kevin remembers nothing. He turns away from the scrapbook and leans back into the overstuffed couch. It's the day before Thanksgiving, and the Pearce home in Hartland, Vermont—a sprawling farmhouse set a mile back from the road—is full of visitors. The fire is crackling in the hearth; a soft snow is falling outside. I watch as Kevin's eyes circle the living room, taking in all the family members present. He nods at his dad, Simon Pearce, a noted potter and glassblower, and he smiles at a joke shared with his two older brothers, Andrew, 29, who liv...

The complete text of “Some Assembly Required” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on

Originally published in Outside, May 2011

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