Vernon freestyle halfpipe skier Justin Dorey retires for the sake of his head - InfoNews

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Vernon freestyle halfpipe skier Justin Dorey retires for the sake of his head

Vernon's Justin Dorey is pictured in this screen shot after his winning run at the Dew Tour Freeski Superpipe final in December 2012. Concussions have forced Dorey to retire from the national halfpipe freestyle ski team after he helped establish Canada as a power in the sport.
Image Credit: YouTube
November 01, 2016 - 2:30 PM

VANCOUVER - Concussions have forced Justin Dorey to retire from the national halfpipe freestyle ski team after he helped establish Canada as a power in the sport.

The 28-year-old from Vernon, B.C., won the overall World Cup title in 2014 and was a Dew Tour champion in 2012.

Dorey and Canadian teammates Mike Riddle and Noah Bowman made the Olympic final in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 when their sport made its Winter Games debut.

Dorey posted the top score in qualifying, but was unable to replicate that performance in the final. Riddle took the silver medal, Bowman was fifth and Dorey 12th.

"I thought I'd be a lot more bummed when I retired, but I feel really lucky that I got as far as I did," Dorey said Tuesday in a statement released by the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.

"When I joined the program we were able to develop the best team in the world and I still believe we have the best team in the world."

Dorey didn't compete in 2015-16 because of concussion symptoms.

He wrote in a letter posted on Freeskier.com on Tuesday that he'd sustained "between 10 and 15 concussions" during his career, with each successive one requiring longer recovery and making him susceptible to more.

The most recent occurred while rope swinging into a lake over a year ago.

"All it took was my head slapping the water to put me out of commission for a year," Dorey wrote. "The fact that this recovery is taking as long as it has — and I'm still not 100 per cent— has led me to make one of the toughest decisions I'll ever make.

"It's time to hang it up."

He intends to pursue a business administration degree at Capilano University.

"Justin is one of the most influential halfpipe skiers of all time," Canadian coach Trennon Paynter said in the CFSA statement.

"His combination of massive amplitude, beautiful style, and technical progression, has long held him in high regard by the international ski and snowboard community."

Here is the letter Justin Dorey penned to announce his retirement:

At age 12, I’d just gotten braces, started listening to Eminem and was blowing minds at elementary school with my fashion game… bleached, spiked, hair, puka shell necklace, Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts. Y2K was a good year for me. Most importantly, though, this was the year I watched MSP’s Ski Movie for the first time and decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I was going be a “pro skier.” Just like the guys in film. So, obviously, the first thing I did the following day after watching that movie was build a jump to get started on becoming the next Tanner Hall. After I put the finishing touches on the two-foot tall mega-booter, it was game time. Fast forward an hour and I’m laid out on a stretcher with my front teeth smashed out, bleeding profusely and heading to the hospital. At that moment, laying down on the stretcher, choking on a nice, warm mouthful of blood, I wondered if maybe I should let T-Hall off the hook and stick with something I was good at. Fortunately, I wasn’t good at much back then. The next weekend my dad and I agreed that I would sign up for the Silver Star Freestyle Club and stick to the plan. That turned out to be the best decision of my life.

The 15 years that followed have been filled with the highest highs and lowest lows. There have been plenty more mouthfuls of blood, stretcher rides and trips to the hospital. Seven years after watching Ski Movie, I got to share my first podium with T-Hall himself at the Dew Tour, and that was just the beginning. Many dreams came true for a naive kid from Vernon, B.C.

Skiing has been good to me. The more I’ve put into it the more it has given back. It has given me friends who became family and a community that has shown me nothing but love and respect, even when I felt I let everyone down countless times over the years. There have been good times and bad times. Setbacks and comebacks. Hopes fulfilled and also heartbreaks. There have been a lot of things along the way, but there has never been a plan B. I knew what I was signing up for since my first trip to the hospital. It was “do or die” since day one. That type of mindset has taken me to some incredible places but it has also taken its toll. I say this with absolutely no regrets. The physical beatings I’ve taken over the years have been well worth the trade-offs. I’ve been fortunate that most of my body has lasted this long.

Today, though, the hits to the head, in particular, have caught up to me. I’ve probably had between 10 and 15 concussions. The first few were a lot different than the last few; with each consecutive hit to the head, it has taken me longer and longer to recover… even from the slightest of impacts. My last concussion came over a year ago, suffered while rope swinging into a lake. All it took was my head slapping the water to put me out of commission for a year. The fact that this recovery is taking as long as it has—and I’m still not 100-percent—has led me to make one of the toughest decisions I’ll ever make:

It’s time to hang it up.

I’ve finally come to terms with retiring from competitive skiing, but I’m not going to lie to you, I’m going to miss this sh#t. I’ve broken into tears a few times while writing this, but not the type of tears I would have expected. Looking back and reflecting on everything that’s happened, I realized that I’m the luckiest damn guy in the world. That 12-year-old on the stretcher got to live his dream because he was in the right place at the right time, surrounded by the right people. Emphasis on the people.

This life has literally been a dream come true for me. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who’s had my back along the way, whether that meant cheering me on from the bottom of the halfpipe or from the other side of a TV screen. I felt the love and you guys really brought the best out of me.

Thank you.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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