World Cup star Anja Paerson to Retire
On the eve of the 2012 World Cup finals set for this week in Schladming, Austria, World Cup living legend Anja Paerson announced her intentions to retire after 14 very successful years on the World Cup Tour.
“My career has been great and I've achieved more than I could ever dream of,” said Paerson, who collected six Olympic medals during her career including a gold in the slalom at the 2006 Games. “I have always been a fighter and this is a tough decision, but after some thought and many discussions with myself, I feel that I am ready for new challenges in my life.”
"The last few years with all the spectacular crashes and enduring injuries have reduced my possibilities to remain on the top," continued Paerson. "Most of all, cartilage damage in my left knee has really hampered my skiing and I have now come to a point in my life that both my body and head are no longer ready to continue."
Paerson began competing at the World Cup level in 1998 and went on to have one of the most decorated careers in World Cup history with 42 victories and 95 podium finishes. She won the women’s overall title back-to-back season’s in 2004 and 05 and claimed four other discipline titles.
“So far this is the hardest decision I’ve had to make in life,” said Paerson, who battled back from several injures during her career but gained the admiration of millions when she returned to win a bronze medal in the 2010 Olympic super combined in Whistler B.C. after taking a heart stopping fall in the previous day’s downhill. “At the same time I feel curious and excited for the challenges ahead now and I have lots of great memories to take with me from my career. Championships at home in Åre 2007 is one of them. Bronze medal in Whistler at the 2010 Olympics is another more on a personal level where I overcame my own mental capacity. I will always remember all the great duels between me and Janica Kostelic and other great racers.”
Paerson said she decided to announce her retirement now so she would have time this week to say goodbye to and thank her fellow racers, coaches, fans and media. “Right now, I would also like to thank my family, my friends, Tärnaby, Swedish Ski Association, sponsors, SOC and all the fans who believed in me and supported me throughout the years,” said Paerson.
Though Paerson plans to take some much needed time off in the coming months, she is committed to staying involved in the sport.
“What I know is that I will continue my political career in the FIS and sit on the Athletes Commission for another year,” said Paerson. “I want to work for all the current racers to get the best possible environment to practice their sport and get their voice heard. I also hope to eventually to be able to share with you everything I learned in my career. My heart will always exist in sports.”
“Anja is someone I've always respected,” said Lindsey Vonn. “She won a World Cup in only her second year of racing, then stayed one of the best skiers in the world her entire career. But beyond what she's done as an athlete, she's been driving the women's World Cup forward as a significant member of the athletes council. I'll miss her on the tour, but know she'll stay close to the sport.”
Image by Gepa