CALGARY - Warren Shouldice won’t compete at his hometown World Cup and will be forced to sit out the rest of this season with concussion problems.
The freestyle skiing aerialist from Calgary is having trouble reading or watching TV thanks to a concussion suffered Dec. 19 in Apex, B.C.
He would tell you he’s one of the lucky ones.
Freestyle halfpipe pioneer Sarah Burke died last week from a head injury suffered during training in Park City, Utah.
“It makes everything I’m going through into perspective,” Shouldice said. “I can’t feel that bad about it when she lost her life.”
At a news conference Wednesday, Shouldice introduced the World Cup moguls and aerials teams that will compete this weekend at Canada Olympic Park.
Shouldice is disappointed he won’t be able to join them, but he’s struggling with his injury right now. He believes it is his fourth concussion, but this one wasn’t as obvious when it first happened.
He had what aerialists call a ‘slapback,’ where his body whipped towards the hill upon landing on his feet. He skied the next day and had a couple more spills but didn’t feel symptoms until trying to train a week later.
“I originally thought it would be a week,” the 28-year-old two-time Olympian said. “Then it was two weeks and now we’re at a month.
“It is slowly getting better. I’m optimistic I’m able to come back. There are days when I wake up and I have a bad headache. It’s discouraging.
“There are days I think, ‘What if? Maybe this is the end.’ The last two days have been good. I really haven’t had any symptoms. Now, I’m optimistic going forward.”
With Burke’s crash, freestyle skiing is coming under question for its safety.
By all accounts, Burke’s accident it was one of those freak incidents that could just as easily happen anywhere in any activity.
“Every sport has dangers, especially the action sport we do, but it’s a calculated risk,” said Shouldice, who once broke his neck on the hill. “We take all the precautions. There are things that out of your control, and that happened with Sarah.
“Yes, it’s dangerous, but it’s within the realm of a calculated risk. Driving your car is still way more dangerous than doing aerials.”
Canadian Freestyle Ski Association CEO Peter Judge said the team is forging ahead with a heavy heart, especially those on Burke’s halfpipe team who are competing this weekend at the X Games in Aspen, Colo.
“Everybody is taking it pretty hard,” Judge said.
“The people closest to Sarah are affected the most — her halfpipe teammates. But it’s clearly recognized that this is what Sarah would have wanted.”