It was as emotional, well, slalom run yesterday (Dec. 29) for Sarah Schleper.
After 15 years on the U.S. Ski Team and four trips to the Olympic Games, the 32-year-old, fun-loving ski racer decided to retire from the sport she loves to spend more time with her family. She took one more memorable run down a World Cup course during the first run of a slalom race in Lienz, Austria. The day was made even more special as Schleper got to watch and celebrate with teammate Mikaela Shiffrin, who captured her first Cup podium at just 16-years-old.
“I loved the journey of my career, it was exciting every second and we had a lot of fun. I had some good results in there and I got to celebrate with my teammates, which I think was and incredibly successful team,” said Schleper the evening of her final run, taken in a dress while carrying her young son. “I loved watching Lindsey [Vonn] and Julia [Mancuso] do what they’ve done and now Mikaela with this podium so young, being a part of all that has been great.”
The Vail, Colo. native, known for her colorful style and iconic pre-race roar, is a passionate competitor and loves everything about the World Cup tour she once described as a the “ongoing rock concert of sporting events.”
“It’s time for me to start my next chapter,” said Schleper who plans to have another child with her husband Federico. “The training, all the ups and downs it’s all been a really cool journey for me. I feel fortunate to have been a ski racer and be in the mountains for 30 years of my life, watching amazing sunrises at training. It’s really been a great journey.”
Schleper, the 1995 Ski Racing Junior of the Year, raced 12 full seasons on the World Cup tour from 1998-2011, only taking the ‘07 and ‘08 seasons off for the birth of her now three-year-old son Lasse. During her World Cup career, Schleper racked up 108 scoring results including four podiums and one victory. She also brought home six U.S. Championship titles, the 1997 Junior Worlds slalom silver medal and five Junior Olympics gold medals.
Fans of the Schleper, nicknamed the Lioness, will have one last opportunity to hear her roar at the 2012 U.S. National championships in Winter Park, Colo in March.
Look for a full-length feature on Schleper in the next digital issue of Ski Racing.
Images by Gepa