I know Justin for over 10 years now, back in the days when we booth were still riding for Dynastar and I met him for the first time over in Colorado for my first US Open trip back in the days. Over the years we been together for a couple of more Dynastar trips and competitions, he´s always been a humble and down to earth guy. A very focused person who loved to ski and challenge himself in order to progress not only his skiing but also as a human being. Because of that I personally and we all from Downdays wish him all the best in his future career and also a speedy recovery. As many of you know, skiing on such a high level as Justin did, takes a toll on your body over the years. Many crashes, dedication and the will to progress and challenge yourself are necessary, not only to progress but also to come back from an injury. We are sure Justin will stay connected to his skiing roots and he´s having a bright future ahead of him!
We wish you all the best!
Words by the man himself’
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].
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.