After months of speculation and anticipation, Austria’s Nicole Hosp announced her retirement from ski racing during a press conference this morning at the panoramic summit restaurant atop the Zugspitze.
“The fire is no longer there. I finish my career as healthy and successfully as I started it,” a teary Hosp said in the press conference.
Hosp stormed onto the World Cup tour in 2002, winning the opening race of the season in Soelden, Austria, in only her eighth World Cup start and became part of history as she joined Tina Maze and Norway’s Andrine Flemmen on the top step of the podium. Hosp was only 18 at the time and had a mere two total World Cup points to her name before the three-way tie for the win. But the victory proved to be no fluke and by season’s end she had cemented herself as one of the top technical skiers on tour, finishing 10th overall, fourth in the GS standings, and 10th in the slalom standings.
Hosp’s first World Cup start came in 2001 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and over the course of her 15 years on tour, she amassed 57 podiums and 12 victories in her 287 starts. Her most successful season came in 2007 when she won the overall and GS titles and was elected Austrian Female Athlete of the Year. She finished the 2008 season second in the overall standings behind Lindsey Vonn and was second in the slalom standings for the second-straight season. Hosp finished on the podium in every event at least once throughout her career, which she accomplished with a third-place finish in the final downhill of the 2015 season in Meribel, France. She won a World Cup race in every event except for downhill, with 10 of her 12 victories coming in slalom and GS — five apiece in each.
In her final season on the World Cup tour, Hosp returned to her technical roots to win the second slalom of the season in Aspen, Colorado. It was her first victory since 2008. Following the race, Hosp held off tears as she said it was one of the most special wins of her career because of all the injuries that had plagued her past seven seasons. She ended the year fifth in the overall standings, ninth in slalom and sixth in super G. She earned two podiums, in addition to her victory, one in super G and another in downhill.
Hosp leaves the sport as one of the most decorated Austrian female athletes with three Olympic and six World Championship medals. In her first taste of a big event in the 2003 World Championships in St. Moritz, she came away with a silver and bronze in the combined and slalom, respectively. Her final World Championship medal came this past February in Vail-Beaver Creek when she earned a silver behind Tina Maze in the combined. She was the 2007 GS world champion in Are, Sweden, the same season she won the overall and GS titles on the World Cup tour.
Hosp’s retirement announcement is one more added to long list of athletes that have already called it a career at season’s end.