Reigning aerial World Champion Warren Shouldice has decided to hang up his skis after a decade on the National Freestyle Ski Team.
The 29-year-old from Calgary is a two-time Olympian. He finished sixth at the Torino Games in 2006 and 10th in Vancouver in 2010. Over his prestigious career, Shouldice had 61 FIS World Cup starts and landed on the podium a dozen times, including an impressive win in front of a hometown crowd in 2011. He competed in three World Championships, where he earned a bronze in 2009 and gold in 2011.
Shouldice will be remembered as an incredible athlete who had a knack for rebounding from adversity and who had a special relationship with an impressive signature trick.
At 19-years-old, in 2002, Shouldice broke his neck in a fluke accident during summer water ramp training. He then went on to compete in his first World Cup only a few months later. It wasn't the first time he would prove his mettle on the air site.
The man who would forever be known as "Wookie" to his coaches and teammates went on to develop a trick that he remains the only aerialist in the world to compete. The jump is a lay, triple full, full (a quadruple twisting triple backflip with three twists on the second flip). Tradition says the first athlete to compete a trick earns the right to name it. Shouldice called his the "Lawn Chair 3000." He explained, "A lawn chair is slang in aerials for a buckled [bad] takeoff; 3000 is for the triple full. It seemed like the most ridiculous thing I could name it, so I went with it. It's kind of an inside joke."
Shouldice performed the jump at the 2006 Torino Games and just barely missed the podium with a deep landing.
Then in, 2009 at a World Cup event in Quebec, Shouldice crashed badly on the trick and suffered a concussion and compressed vertebrae. Never one to give up, just 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, unfortunately 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.
Along with the opportunity to represent Canada at two Olympics, the highlight of Shouldice's career came at the 2011 Worlds in Deer Valley, Utah. At that event, in a textbook clutch performance, he came back from seventh position after his first jump to put down a perfect lay, triple full, full and earn a perfect score to take the world title.
"That was three seconds that will last a lifetime," said Shouldice. "To do that jump, that's basically mine, under those circumstances, under the pressure, and to get a perfect score – to do the best jump I've ever done – and then at that perfect moment it was a dream come true. I have such profound respect for that trick. It's such a hard jump to do well, let alone perfectly. And how everything came together at that moment in Deer Valley, I'll remember it vividly and clearly for the rest of my life."