Vancouver, November 22, 2018 –Canadian freestyle skiing halfpipe pioneer and two-time Olympian Rosalind Groenewoud announced today that she is retiring from the sport.
The halfpipe pro is stepping away from competition at the age of 28, having stood on the podium at most major events in her sport: earning seven X Games medals (2 gold), the 2011 FIS World Championship title, nine World Cup/Grand Prix medals (3 gold), medals at Dew Tour, US and Euro Opens, and the status as one of only three women to win X Games Gold on two continents (North America and Europe) in the same year (2012). In 2011, 2012 & 2013, she ranked 2nd overall in the FIS World Cup rankings, and was the 2012 AFP (Association of Freeskiing Professionals) World Tour Women’s Halfpipe Champion. Over the past four seasons, Groenewoud has sustained four major injuries, two of which she pushed through to compete in the Olympics (2014 & 2018).
“I think everyone has a threshold as to how much heartache and disappointment they can bear in the pursuit of their dream. I reached that limit this year,” said Groenewoud. “Although I had always planned to compete in the 2019 World Championships, I ran out of the fire that allows me to push through injuries and pain. I’ll really miss flying high and spinning out of the pipe—nothing else can match that feeling!”
“The most powerful memory of my career was at X Games 2012, shortly after the death of Sarah Burke,” said Groenewoud. “I arrived in Aspen so weighed down with grief that I couldn’t ski, let alone fly high. X Games organized a celebration of Sarah’s life — athletes from across all actions sports gathered around her family in the halfpipe--and that changed everything. I woke the next morning ready to be lifted up with love. I won gold and every female halfpipe skier achieved a personal best that day, including my teammates, Keltie Hansen and Megan Gunning.”
Groenewoud was one of the members of the informal Canadian halfpipe team that had been created before Ski Halfpipe became an Olympic discipline, after which an official National Team was formed in 2011. She experienced significant changes in her sport since her first World Cup season in 2006, such as the gradual inclusion of female freeskiers at most major competitions, and the nod for Olympic inclusion.
“Some of my fondest memories are from the early days on the unofficial Canadian team, before the cultural shift that came with Olympic inclusion. Today, none of those “originals” are left on the national team, but the tradition of the Canadians making a difference in halfpipe skiing continues,” said Roz G--a name given to her in those early years.
The decorated ski halfpipe team that exists today is due in part to Groenewoud, who advocated for and fiercely supported Burke’s efforts to have their specialty included in the Olympic program. That goal became a reality at the Sochi Games, and Groenewoud competed in the very first halfpipe event in Olympic history in February of 2014, and again later, at the 2018 Olympics. She overcame recent knee surgeries and a broken humerus to make finals and finish in the top 10 at both Games.
“It was a great honour and an incredible experience to ski for Canada at two Olympic Games, including the inaugural event for my sport,” said the Calgary-born athlete who now resides in Vancouver.
“Roz has been one of the most committed, driven, and hard-working athletes that I’ve ever had the privilege to work with,” said her coach of 13 years, Trennon Paynter. “Her personal contributions to the founding of the Canadian Halfpipe team were instrumental during the early stages of our sport, and her competitive legacy speaks for itself. Her work ethic, intelligence, and attention to detail will undoubtedly bring significant achievements in the next chapter of her life, and we wish her the best as she takes on new challenges.”
“Roz is the woman who will go to the Olympics with a broken arm, come back and complete difficult studies for med school, and then bike across Africa...all before some of us get to our to-do lists,” said Kaya Turski, a slopestyle professional who competed on the international circuit with Groenewoud until her own retirement in the fall of 2017. “She’s a superpower. Exemplifying a great will with an extraordinary human touch, Rosa is a one-of-a-kind beautiful and strong spirit. I’m honored to call her a friend and excited to watch her grow, and thrive, into upcoming pursuits.”
“Roz is a wonderful example of the physical and mental strength a woman can have,” declared Keltie Hansen, a teammate on the Canadian halfpipe team with Roz for 7 years. “Above all, though, for me she’s the woman in the original group of female skiers who paved the way for slopestyle and halfpipe, and who fought for equal treatment of women when it came to prize purses, competing, and regulations. Roz has always had a broader vision of life and she’s been an amazing role model for me.”
Groenewoud will continue to be involved in the world of sport, pursuing advocacy work with non-profit organization Right to Play, and foremost as a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athletes Commission. “I’m looking forward to contributing, especially in my leadership role in Athlete Safety, with a special interest in the new policies in sport around abuse and harassment.”
Throughout her career she juggled the demands of training and competing internationally year-round with continuing her education, becoming the first Canada Freestyle National Team member to earn a university degree while still being an active competitor. She plans to resume her academic education next fall, either in medicine or neuroscience.
“I have so much gratitude for so many people who have helped shape my athletic career. Thank you to my parents, family, coaches, orthopaedic surgeon, physiotherapists, best friends, trainers, sports psychologists, massage therapists, ski technicians, staff with Freestyle Canada, X Games, the COC, and the teammates, freeskiers, other elite athletes who supported and inspired me. I’m grateful to the sponsors who were there for me throughout the years, in particular MEC and Coalition Snow, which remain with me today.”
Groenewoud addressed extra thanks to Rob McNeill, a Calgary businessman, who raised funds for four years for the unofficial Canadian ski halfpipe team while they waited for the Olympic nod. “I don’t know what we would have done without him,” Groenewoud said. “He believed in the team and the future of our sport.”