Vancouver medalist Robertson announces retirement
Following two frustrating years of headaches and health setbacks, Olympic silver medalist Mike Robertson is trading in his dreams for long-term health.
Robertson tried three times over the past two seasons to return to World Cup form, but was unsuccessful. On Tuesday (May 29), he decided to call it a career and announced his retirement.
“I’ve definitely been thinking about this for a long time. The decision was made for me because of the concussions,” Robertson said.
Raised in Canmore, Robertson became a household name across the country in 2010 after winning a snowboard cross silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Whistler Winter Olympics. He had 30 World Cup starts over his five-year career and at 25, was the youngest Canadian racer on the national team at the time of his Olympic silver medal win. Although he had back-to-back World Cup podium performances in 2009, he was a long shot to reach the final, but surprised everyone with his performance.
He had planned to refocus and target the 2014 Sochi games, however, he suffered a major concussion the summer after the Olympics while training overseas. He missed the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and developed concussion symptoms each time he tried to return to action. Robertson believes it was the third concussion of his career. The condition was so bad, he could do little more than sit in his basement for two-and-a-half months. However, he slowly returned to the snow and planned to make a full recovery.
Last season, he coached the Evolve ski and snowboard team with his brother and spent much of the winter on snow at Lake Louise, but struggled to regain his old form and didn’t compete. He still suffers from concussion symptoms today.
“My long-term health is more important than those (Olympic) goals,” Robertson said. “It was too much of a risk to continue. I had to re-evaluate what I was doing, but 2014 is not in the cards. I’m on to greener pastures.”
Despite the fact his career was cut short, Robertson said he has lots of good memories.
“I’m happy with the life I’ve led for the last 10 years. It was pretty awesome. From a competitive standpoint, the Olympics was the biggest take-home one-day event. All my friends and family were there and it was in Canada, so that was special,” Robertson said.
He credits Canmore for supporting him throughout his career and his coaches and family for helping him along the way.
“The most important people were my parents. They supported me and really let me follow my dreams. My brother was always there coaching me, and Mark Ballard also helped me along the way. Also, my teammates with the national team always pushed me,” Robertson said.
He’s taking a month off to climb and mountain bike around the United States with his girlfriend and is weighing his next career move.
“I’m thinking about what to do. I’d like to become a backcountry snowboard guide and I’ll need to find a summer job when I get back in July.”
Canada Snowboard also announced Francois Boivin of Jonquiere, Que. and Dan Csokonay of Canmore have also retired.
Robertson hopes the community will continue to support snowboard cross racers in the future.
“In Canmore, everyone gets behind their athletes. I hope that carries on and we’ll see next winter how the new athletes do.”
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