Austrian ski champion Hosp announces retirement

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Austria's Nicole Hosp first shot to fame at the age of 18 when she won the giant slalom race on the 2002 World Cup circuit at Solden (AFP Photo/Philippe Desmazes)
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Vienna (AFP) - Austria's former world champion Nicole Hosp announced on Monday she was retiring from alpine racing, after a stellar career spanning 12 World Cup victories, three Olympic medals and 57 podium finishes.

She also raced to the giant slalom world title in 2007.

"The fire has gone out. I am ending my career as healthy and successful as I was when I started," the 31-year-old Tyrolean said during a press conference.

The announcement comes just four months after she took silver in the combined event at the world championships in Beaver Creek, and added a team event gold, in February.

At the time she had already hinted at her possible retirement, saying she was getting ready "for a different life" and having children.

Hosp first shot to fame at the age of 18 when she won the giant slalom race on the 2002 World Cup circuit at Solden.

Five years later, the versatile racer celebrated her best season in 2007 when she finished as World Cup overall champion and also won her first world championship gold medal, in the giant slalom, at Are, Sweden.

In 2009, however, Hosp's career suffered a serious setback when she sustained a severe knee injury during a training run.

The ligament damage forced her to miss the 2009/2010 season.

After a slow recovery, the combative athlete made a comeback last February, winning a silver and a bronze, in the combined race and super-G respectively, at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

And in November, 2014, Hosp caught everyone by surprise when she clinched her first slalom World Cup victory since 2008 in Aspen, beating 19-year-old US favourite Mikaela Shiffrin who finished fifth.

"To win (this race) is a bit like scoring my first victory. It means a lot when you've gone through all these troubled years," Hosp said.