Whistler's ski racing darling Britt Janyk has announced her retirement.
"It was definitely a difficult decision and one I didn't take lightly," she said in an interview on Tuesday morning. "Once I stepped back and allowed myself to go through all those emotions and find what's on the other side of it I was able to see that I was excited about the next chapter and what comes next. Once I made the decision it really felt great."
The 30-year-old Squamish resident said she's looking forward to trying other sports and living a less structured life. Ever the competitor, she lists improving her golf game and learning to windsurf as top on her to-do list.
"There are many things I will miss about being on the road and racing and training at such a high level but I think I feel equally as excited about stepping into the next chapter and part of my life," she said.
Janyk is a 15-time Canadian champion in her discipline. She rose to fame in 2007 when she won her first World Cup race in Aspen, Colorado. At last year's Winter Games she took sixth in the downhill event, 17 th in super-G and 25 th in giant slalom and followed up with three medals in the 2010-2011 World Cup season.
Always determined she fought back from injury in the 2007-08 season and paid her way to compete on the national team so she could earn a full spot on the team the following season - the season she won World Cup downhill.
"I love winning," she said with a laugh. "When you're a competitive person you can't stand to lose so always fighting to get to that top place and working through hard days...that's the thrill of it, that challenge to always be better."
Janyk's team and family reached out to support the athlete as she made her emotional announcement at a press conference in Vancouver Tuesday. Brother and fellow competitor Mike Janyk, who skis on the men's national team and couldn't be with his sister during her announcement, sent out a heartfelt tribute through Alpine Canada on YouTube.
"I can say we've gone through a lot in our careers. It started off with me just trying to chase you and keep up and that went all the way to the national team," he said in a video message. "I think it really came together when we were both on the World Cup - winning, losing, whatever it was we were working together.
"My greatest memory between the two of us was when we were both racing at the world championships in Are (Sweden, 2007), and you finished fourth (in super-G) and I finished sixth (in slalom) and we there at the bottom of the hill for each other after each race."
Former teammate Emily Brydon wished her friend the best of luck.
"Welcome to the fun world of no stress and all play," she said in her YouTube tribute. "You are officially a lady of leisure so enjoy it and have fun and sit back, relax and enjoy the time you have now before you take that next step in your life. You deserve every minute that you relax ...because you've put a lot of time and effort and passion into the sport...you were a great friend and a great teammate."
Although her racing suit has been hung up for good, Janyk has no plans to give up her favourite sport. The idea of not skiing is akin to not breathing to the lifelong skier, who was raised on the mountains between North Vancouver and Whistler.
"I think I'll do more powder days," she said. "I was so jealous this season when I kept hearing how much snow Whistler was getting and I was over in Europe and there was no snow and no powder skiing."
Giving back to up-and-coming skiers is also in Janyk's future. This weekend, she will help coach a Whistler excellence camp for young racers and admits she's fully ready to accept her role as skiing royalty around Whistler.
"I'm looking forward to giving back to a sport and a community that has given me so much and sharing my experience and knowledge with some young racers," she said. "When you're on the other side of the world competing and are able to feel all the support from your community, it's amazing and a great feeling."