After a hugely successful 16-year career, Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov announced over the weekend that he is retiring from competitive snowboarding.
Podladtchikov (aka I-Pod) first dropped in on World Cup competition back in 2004 at the age of 15, beginning what would be one of the greatest and most successful careers in halfpipe history, as he would go on to claim three world championships medals (including gold at the Stoneham 2013 event), the 2007/08 halfpipe crystal globe, four World Cup victories, 14 World Cup podiums, multiple X Games and Dew Tour podiums, and the respect of snowboarders around the globe.
Podladtchikov's greatest triumph, however, came at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, where the then-25-year-old rose to the occasion on sport's biggest stage to claim halfpipe gold in the country in which he was born. Besting the likes of Japan's Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka - the silver and bronze medallists, respectively - as well as the then-two-time reigning gold medallist Shaun White (USA), Podladtchikov's YOLO-flipping winning run was one for the ages.
However, a heavy crash at the X Games just two weeks before he was set to defend his Sochi title at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games forced him to miss competition in Korea. That X Games setback was one of many injuries Podladtchikov has that have derailed his career over the past several seasons, with the others including a knee ligiment tear at the Sierra Nevada 2017 world championships (where he was still able to earn a silver medal), and an achilles tendon injury suffered in training at the Utah 2019 world champs.
With the injuries stacking up and impeding his ability to ride at snowboarding's highest level, Podladtchikov made the decision to step away from competition, and the 31-year-old will now be focusing his energies on art and school.
All four of Podlatchikov's World Cup wins came on Swiss soil - including the final triumph of his career at the Laax Open in 2018. Fittingly, what we now know to be the final competition of Podlatchikov's career came last season at that very same venue in Laax, where he was able to make finals and put down one more his signature, unique runs to finish just off the podium in fifth place and end his career in impressive fashion - and on his own terms.
Read more from Swiss Snowboard HERE.