Time to say good-bye: Freestyle Skiing retirements

30 April 2014 14:27
Alex Bilodeau celebrating gold in Vancouver
Alex Bilodeau celebrating gold in Vancouver -

The end of the Olympic cycle has marked the announcement of the following athletes' retirement from Freestyle Skiing, many of whom have left a lasting impact on the sport.

At 26 years of age, reigning Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau (CAN), one of the most decorated moguls skiers has decided to retire. He exits as one of Canada’s greatest Olympians, winning the nation’s first gold in Vancouver 2010 and successfully defending his title in Sochi 2014. During his career, Bilodeau amassed 48 World Cup podiums including 19 victories, and took three World Championship titles in dual moguls next to two silver medals in moguls.

With his World Cup performance, Bilodeau broke the record of most podium finishes of Jean-Luc Brassard (CAN). "I never looked at the number of podiums," Bilodeau said. "For me it was a day-to-day process of trying to be the best in the world.“

Bilodeau said it has been his plan since 2010 to retire after the 2013/14 FIS World Cup season. He will now focus on an accounting career.

Dale-Begg Smith also retired after the 2013/14 winter. Smith won the gold medal for Australia in the men's mogul event at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin (ITA) and silver at Vancouver 2010. He is one of only five Australians to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. In addition, Smith won an outstanding four moguls World Cup titles in a row (2005/06-2009/10) and took moguls gold and dual moguls silver at the 2007 FIS World Championships in Madonna di Campiglio (ITA) next to moguls bronze two years earlier in Ruka (FIN). 

Guilbaut Colas (FRA) is another moguls skier joining the group of retirements. The 30-year-old, two-time Olympian earned moguls gold at the FIS World Championships 2011 in Deer Valley (USA) and silver in dual moguls. During his FIS World Cup career, Colas collected seven victories and had 28 podium finishes.

With Aiko Uemura (JPN) one of the top moguls skiers on the ladies’ side is retiring. Narrowly missing out on a medal in her fifth consecutive Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, she said she was able to enjoy a “happy career”. The 34-year-old failed to medal but finished in the top eight in all five Olympic competitions, starting with her debut in Nagano in 1998. “Nagano was the first Olympics I competed in and I realised my dream,” said Uemura. At FIS World Cup level, she won the overall World Cup crown in the 2007/08 season and scored ten victories. She also took two World Championship titles in her home country in Inawashiro 2009 and two bronze medals in moguls (2001 Whistler, CAN) and dual moguls (2005 Ruka, FIN).

In aerials, Renato Ulrich (SUI) recently announced his retirement. The 30-year-old was part of the Swiss national team for eleven years and participated in three editions of the Olympic Winter Games. In Sochi, he scored the best result for his team with an eleventh place. During his World Cup career, Ulrich claimed five podium positions and took two second places at FIS World Championships.

Five ski cross athletes announce retirements

In ski cross, five athletes have retired from active racing.

After a 12-year World Cup career that included 70 starts, ten podiums, and five victories, Swedish ski cross legend Lars Lewen announced his retirement. The 38-year-old walks away from the World Cup as the most decorated Swedish ski cross athlete of all time, paving the way for the likes of 2013/14 ski cross overall winner Victor Oehling Norberg. Lewen’s best showing at the FIS World Championships was fifth place in 2005 and 2007.

Other athletes retiring include Jenny Owens and Scott Kneller (AUS), and Emilie Serain (SUI) and Patrick Koller (AUT).

Owens and Kneller, who both represented their country at two Olympic Winter Games and three World Championships, retired from competitive skiing after Sochi.

Meanwhile, two-time Olympian Koller announced his retirement after a knee injury sidelined him from racing this season at the FIS World Cup in Are (SWE).

Emilie Serain had already left the scene when she missed the national team spot for Sochi as the fifth-ranked Swiss skier. The 30-year-old, who has been part of the ski cross World Cup since its inauguration, earned four podiums in her ten-year-career.

FIS wishes all athletes all the best in their future endeavours!