15-time Swiss World Cup winner Sonja Nef retires{mosimage}SESTRIERE, Italy – Decorated Swiss ski veteran Sonja Nef announced Tuesday that she is retiring from competition after 12 seasons on the World Cup circuit because of poor health.

Nef, 33, last raced in January and wasn’t on the Swiss Olympic team. She intended to quit at the end of the World Cup season, but a hip problem that may require surgery prompted her to stop early.

”I would have preferred to finish my career on skis,” Nef said. ”Unfortunately, once again, I’m plagued by health problems.”

Nef decided to announce her retirement at the site of her first World Cup victory, 10 years ago.

Though Nef won two giant slaloms toward the end of the 2004-05 World Cup season, she could manage no better than 12th this season. She failed to finish her last race – a slalom at Maribor, Slovenia, in January – and had been racing independently of the Swiss team owing to her injuries.

Nef has a history of serious knee injuries. She underwent regular surgery for eight years and routinely injected fish oil into her knee.

The 164-centimeter (5-foot-4) skier climbed the World Cup podium for the first time in 1996, placing second in a giant slalom at Maribor, then posted her first victory soon after at a slalom in Sestriere.

After hurting her knee yet again at the World Championships that winter, Nef was advised to give up ski racing. She ignored the recommendation and proceeded to win 14 more World Cup races, was crowned giant slalom world champion in 2001 and took Olympic bronze in the same discipline at Salt Lake City in 2002.

In all she won 13 World Cup giant slaloms and two slaloms, that led her to a pair of World Cup giant slalom crystal globes.

Nef said she was undecided about what she would do after retirement.

Article Tags: Alpine

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