Though the lure of a potential Olympic berth was still there for Whistler’s Chelsea Henitiuk, the veteran member of the national moguls team has decided to call it a career after several years competing at the World Cup level.
The 25-year-old made the announcement on her personal blog last week, and said in a Monday (Sept. 2) interview that she had been mulling over the decision for much of the offseason.
“I definitely had been thinking about it a while,” she said. “I took the spring and most of the summer to make a final call. After last year, I had some injuries and my heart’s not in the game anymore.”
Henitiuk has enrolled at the University of British Columbia and will begin working towards a career in physiotherapy.
With the Olympics in Sochi just five months away, Henitiuk still had a realistic chance of qualifying for her first Games with some good results early in the 2013-14 season. However, she said the chance to compete there in February was “kind of the only thing making me stick around.”
“I really obviously wanted to qualify for the Games, but after coming off this last season, at the end of it I realized I was in a place where, mentally, I don’t think I could have done another one,” she said. “I was ready to move on and do something different, so I knew it was the right call.”
Henitiuk suffered a calf muscle tear midway through last season that held her out of a few World Cup events and the world championships. After a promising start to the season that started with back-to-back top-10 finishes, she struggled to regain her top form after the injury.
Though it ended with a frustrating finish, there were plenty of highlights over the course of Henitiuk’s career, during which she made 43 World Cup starts. She pointed out her career-best finish, a fourth-place result in duals competition at Mont Gabriel, Que., during the 2012 season as one of her proudest moments, while she also fondly recalled skiing as a forerunner at Cypress Mountain during the 2010 Olympics.
Originally from Spruce Grove, Alta., Henitiuk noted that competing in her home province was something she looked forward to each season as well.
“I always loved competing in Calgary, because I lived in Calgary for a while so just competing there in front of friends and family was a highlight every year,” said Henitiuk, who placed in the top 12 in each of her last three World Cup starts at Canada Olympic Park.
Also a four-time winner on the Nor-Am Cup circuit during her career, Henitiuk said she’s received lots of support and encouragement over her decision to retire.
“Friends and family who are pretty close to me, I think they’re excited for me to have a new challenge and think they kind of knew I was ready to move on,” she said.
Although she has moved down to Vancouver for the school year, Henitiuk will remain a regular fixture in the resort. She plans to live in Whistler during the summer and continue to work as a coach for Momentum Ski Camps, while she also hopes to help out some of the Sea to Sky’s up-and-coming skiers through the Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club on weekends.
“I still love the sport and I’m not coming away from it with a negative mindset, so I really want to stay a part of it and I really love coaching and want to stay involved as much as possible,” said Henitiuk.