Morning Star Staff
Former World Cup national halfpipe freestyle ski champion Justin Dorey of Vernon has called it a day.
Concussions especially dogged the 28-year-old last season. Dorey, who began training as a teen at Silver Star Mountain Resort, 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. Dorey finished 12th in the first-ever Olympic men’s ski half pipe event in Sochi, Russia.
Dorey, who had the top qualifying score of 91.60, was on his way to what may have been a gold-medal performance in his first of two runs in the final when his skis caught the edge of the wall and Dorey crashed.
Dorey stumbled on his second run and finished with a lower score than his first run.
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.”
The Olympic experience capped an already sensational comeback season for the 26-year-old Vernon native.
Like many of his fellow competitors, Dorey took a step back from training after the grueling season. Even with the extra time to reflect, he is still at a loss when it comes to describing his Olympic joyride.
“It was insane. I had no idea what I was in for,” Dorey told The Morning Star on a conference call earlier this month with Canadian freestyle team members Riddle, Roz Groenewoud and coach Paynter.
“I still don’t really know how to describe it, but I’ll be a big fan of the Olympics for the rest of my life.”
And rather than sulk about his personal misfortune at the Games, Dorey instead rallied around his teammates and celebrated their success.
“It was really cool watching a lot of my best friends’ lives change forever,” said Dorey, who recently bought a house near Whistler. “Just watching how big of a deal that was, I was happy to be a part of it.”
He was also thrilled to be part of the historical debut of his sport at the Olympics.
“We’re very lucky, me and Mike and the rest of the team,” he said. “We came in at the time when the sport established itself. It’s definitely grown a lot. It’s been crazy.”
Dorey opened the 2014-15 halfpipe seaso at the Dew Tour stop in Breckenridge, Colo. He didn’t reach the finals, but Riddle was ninth, and Whistler’s Simon d’Artois, another Canadian team member, was 11th.