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L.A. Beat

Local film makers document recovery of Johnny Korthuis's recovery from dangerous jump

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 Johnny Korthuis is no stranger to facing the fear. But after almost dying while base jumping off  the Perrine Bridge in Idaho Falls last May when his parachute failed to open, he faced the fear once more, March 8. This time with new friends Gianna Isabella and Deadline Media, who are making a documentary documenting his recovery. It will be called “Disciple of Gravity: the Johnny Korthuis story.”Scott Sikma, Johnny Korthuis and Gianna Isabella are working on a documentary to tell the human story of Johnny Korthuis. Photo by Richard Amery

He dislocated his shoulders and broke more than a dozen bones including several ribs, his scapula, left femur and right ankle in the 486 foot jump last year after landing in 12 feet of water in Snake River and spent months recovering.

  Everything went without a hitch for his return.
“ It went really well. It was good to get out there again. But it was quite a challenge,” Korthuis said adding he really started to feel a rush of emotion on the way there, but calmed down when he reached Idaho Falls.
“ I need to go back. It still haunts me,” said Korthuis, who also jumped off the Lethbridge high level bridge, two weeks before the jump.

“ Actions speak louder than talk. Otherwise it’s just talking,” he continued.
“I had to go back and just see it. I got up there and all of the sudden I was feeling pretty confident,” he said.
“ I settled down and I felt relief. I had to go back twice. It was too windy the first time. The next day it was a lot of hurry up and wait as the camera crews had to set up,” he said.

 He ended up jumping it twice.
“Curtis (Huisman), my videographer, who held me up by my shoulders (after the original accident) was there. My whole team was there. He gave me a big hug. I went back up and repacked my parachute,” he said.

Huisman’s company AlwaysDTF is collaborating with Deadline Media for this documentary.
A few years ago, Lethbridge arbourist Korthuis decided to “branch” out into adventure travel. He has since climbed mountains and has jumped out of plane  and  bridges.
“I spent my 20s developing that tree pruning business and decided to step back and find something a little more real,” he said. He has been mountain biking since he was a child, a rock climber, BASE jumper, skydiver and a gymnast.

After the accident, he started posting updates on Facebook, which captured the attention of Gianna Isabella who he knew cursorily from working at Blockbuster Video.
“ I found his story to be very interesting,” said Isabella, adding she wanted to tell the whole truth and examine the human perspective of Korthuis’ experience and recovery.

 She was among the first to contact him as she was intrigued by the story. A friendship blossomed as she decided to tell his story.
“ I didn’t even know that’s what they did, Korthuis said.
“ You’re lucky if you meet one person who really gets you. I met three in one year,” he said of Deadline Media.
“ It has been quite the roller coaster of emotions and there have been a lot of lessons learned in the six months (while recovering). I only had about five seconds to learn anything during the jump,” he said before the second jump.
 He is pleased to have so many supporters and well wishers.
“I really appreciate all of them,” he said.
“They give me more than a bit of hope,” he said.

Korthuis said success in extreme sports is a matter of visualizing both the worst possible outcomes and the best.
“Imagine the worst possible outcome and if you can’t be okay with it, you should not be doing it,” he said.
He noted he must imagine every possibly thing that could go wrong and work out how to adapt to each outcome in his mind before even beginning the physical preparations for the jump.
“Then you need to be able to visualize a perfect success,” he said.
“But you need to respect that situation,” he said.

He said it was a pleasure working with Isabella and her crew.
“Everyone knows their jobs. That is super refreshing. And they just got me,” he said.
“it’s not about telling my side of the story, it’s about telling the truth,” Korthuis said.
“It was an opportunity to show people fear is real,” he said.
“It just felt comfortable working with him,” Isabella said.
“I wanted to listen, I wanted to tell a real human story. He doesn’t think he’s Superman,” she continued.
After the full length hour-and-a-half to two hour long film, they will hold a private screening for close friends, then release it  to the public.
  They are launching a crowd-funding campaign to finish the film.
 In the meantime, Korthuis has a full schedule of guiding, filming and  coaching set up for the next few months, mostly in the United States. He will be band for the Men’s T and T show at the Enmax, April 5-6
“ I feel a lot better now. That bridge is no longer going to be in my dreams,” Korthuis said.

 A version of this story appears in the March 26, 2014 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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