Halfpipe skier Justin Dorey announces retirement via heartfelt letter

Halfpipe skier Justin Dorey announces retirement via heartfelt letter

Justin Dorey’s list of awards, accolades and titles includes Association of Freeskiing Professionals World Champion; FIS World Champion; World Cup champion; Dew Tour champion; U.S. Grand Prix champion; Jon Olsson Super Sessions champion; X Games medalist and Olympian, among others. The Vernon, British Columbia-native has been a mainstay on the competitive halfpipe circuit for the better part of the last decade. He honed his skills alongside Canadian Freestyle Ski Team members including the likes of Mike Riddle, Simon D’Artois, Noah Bowman, Matt Margetts, Kris Atkinson, Rosalind Groenewoud, Cassie Sharpe, Megan Gunning and Keltie Hansen, all under the guidance of coach Trennon Paynter, arguably the most respected skiing halfpipe coach on the globe.

Through the years, amid the successes, Dorey suffered an assortment of injuries that plagued his ability to compete at the highest level. Most recently, Dorey suffered a number of concussions that forced him to the sidelines; he has experienced symptoms of his latest concussion for a year-plus. Today, the 28-year-old announces his retirement from competitive halfpipe skiing. The announcement comes in the form of the open letter, seen below.

From the X Games pipe at Buttermilk to the Dew Tour stunt ditch in Breckenridge to the immaculate halfpipe in Tignes, France and beyond, Dorey inspired countless skiers with his knack for amplitude, his smooth skiing style and his mastery of highly technical tricks. On behalf of the gang at FREESKIER, we say “Thanks, Justin,” for everything you poured into the sport of skiing.


by Justin Dorey

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, [British Columbia].


Photo: Shay Williams

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.

Justin Dorey’s winning run – Dew Tour superpipe, 2012

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.


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