World champion aerials skier Warren Shouldice of Calgary has decided against coming back from the concussion that curtailed his 2012 season and will hang up his skis after a decade on the national freestyle ski team.
Shouldice, 29 and a veteran of two Olympic teams, repeatedly bounced back from injury during a 10-year career – including a broken neck suffered in 2002 when he was training off-season on a water ramp. This time, however, a long layoff and the risk of serious re-injury kept him on the sidelines.
"It's not a decision that you come to quickly. It's something I've been thinking about probably ever since the Vancouver Games, but after the Games I decided that I had a little bit more in me and I managed to pull it together for that [winning] performance at worlds," he said in a statement to the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.
"After getting injured in 2012 and taking some time off I found that I really enjoyed my time at home. I went to school and realized that I am ready to start the next chapter of my life. I'm really excited about getting an education, getting a job and moving forward," said Shouldice.
Shouldice was sixth at the Torino Games in 2006 and 10th in Vancouver in 2010. He had 61 World Cup starts and 12 podium appearances. He competed in three world championships, where he earned a bronze in 2009 and gold in 2011.
Shouldice retires as the only aerialist to complete a difficult jump called a lay, triple full, full -- a quadruple twisting triple backflip with three twists on the second flip. It was the jump that won him his world crown two years ago at Park Valley, Utah. "Three seconds that will last a lifetime," he called it.
Shouldice also performed the jump at the 2006 Olympics. He was good in their air, but not so good on landing, missing the medals.
In 2009 at a World Cup event in Quebec, Shouldice crashed badly on the trick and suffered a concussion and compressed vertebrae. Six weeks later he rebounded at worlds in Inawashiro, Japan and performed it again to take the bronze.
At the Vancouver Games Shouldice posted the highest score of the aerial competition with his signature jump, but he under-performed on his other jump in the event where two jumps scores are combined to determine the final placing and landed in 10th position.
Peter Judge, CEO of Canadian freestyle called Shouldice "not only a marquee performer, but he developed into a real team leader... He was always a little in the shadows when he was younger but when it was his time to step up and lead the team he did it very well."
Shouldice praised aerials coach Dennis Capicik for his resilience. "I never would have made it this far, or even made it period, without him. He's the sole reason that I became an Olympian and a world champion."