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Giant of WC Skiing retires

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I am gald I was able to see this man race. He was amazingly fast & mad e it look so easy.

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Four-time Olympic medalist Stephan Eberharter retired from competitive skiing Friday after 16 years on the World Cup circuit.

The decision was not an easy one, the 35-year-old Eberharter said.

``After 20 years of racing, the time has come to say goodbye,'' he said. ``I have taken my time to consider all the pros and cons, but my heart and mind told me it is enough.''

He was the runner-up in last season's overall World Cup standings, behind fellow Austrian Hermann Maier, but took the downhill title for the third straight time. He had won the previous two overall titles when Maier was recovering from a 2001 motorcycle accident.

``One should know when it's enough and I think I have chosen the right moment,'' Eberharter said. ``When you are young, traveling the world, and being a ski star is cool, it's fun,'' he said. ``And fun was always important to me, but I did not feel it anymore.''

He said he knew he had reached his limit when he fell ill several times at the start of last season.

``My body told me it was time to quit,'' he said. ``Over the summer this feeling grew even stronger, as I also lacked the motivation needed to train as hard as possible.''

After winning two gold medals in the super-G and the men's combined at the 1991 world championship in Saalbach, Austria, at the age of 21, Eberharter suffered several injuries, including broken collar bones and torn cruciate ligaments, and lost his spot on an increasingly dominating Austrian ski team.

He made a comeback in the World Cup in 1997 after winning back-to-back races on the European Cup tour.

But he long found himself in the shadow of the even more successful and hugely popular Maier, and at the end of last season he began hinting that it might have been his last.

Eberharter competed on the World Cup circuit for 16 seasons, winning 29 races, four Olympic medals and four world championship medals -- the most recent last year in St. Moritz, where he won the super-G.

At the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Eberharter won the giant slalom gold, the super-G silver and the downhill bronze. In Nagano four years earlier, he placed second in the giant slalom.

The retirement leaves Maier and U.S. skier Bode Miller as the favorites for next season's World Cup overall title.
post #2 of 3
Nice to see him go out on top.

Isn't it nice that ski racers as a rule don't attempt foolish comebacks like athletes in other sports. In this sport you can loose more than your pride from such ego crisis endevors. Just ask Bill Johnson.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
PORTILLO, Chile (Sept. 21) - Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), who becomes the No. 1 active men's downhill racer on the World Cup tour with the retirement of Austrian Stephan Eberharter, paid tribute Tuesday to his friendly foe as "a great competitor, a great and true champion." He added, "And I'd like to get one more crack at him in Kitzbuehel" at the sport's centerpiece race, the Hahnenkamm downhill.

Rahlves, training in Portillo with the U.S. downhillers, has been second to Eberharter in the World Cup downhill standings for the last two seasons. When he won the super G gold medal at the 2001 World Championships, Eberharter was silver medalist; they have shared the podium multiple times, including last season when Rahlves won the Chevy Truck Birds of Prey downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., with Eberharter second and in the season's final DH in Sestriere, Italy, when Rahlves won and Eberharter finished third.

Although the Austrian's retirement makes him the t op active World Cup downhiller, Rahlves shrugged off the honor. "I need to ascend the throne on my own, rather than have someone retire," he said.

"It's tough, though, to see one of the ultimate competitors leave; Steph's a great guy, a great skier and we've become pretty good friends in the last few years. We had some good battles and it was always fun to go up against him because he was always a fast skier. If I was sitting at the bottom with a lead, I never felt comfortable if he hadn't come down yet because he was so fast...

"His retirement doesn't make it any easier. He's the guy who beat me two years in a row," the Californian said, "but there are still a lot of good guys out there. You can never think you have it made. It won't be any easier chance to win a race, or take the title - you never can let your guard down because that's when you'll get taken down."

Eberharter's retirement - announced last Friday - was "a little bit of a surprise," he said, because he thought the popular Austrian, who won two World Cup overall titles plus five event titles (three in DH, two in super G), was going to retire at the end of the 2004 World Cup season after winning his third straight downhill title. When he didn't announce his retirement, Rahlves said, he started to hear Eberharter would be back for a limited number of races.

Still, he's happy Eberharter "is going out on top and on his terms. When an athlete retires, you like to see 'em retire on their terms, not because they're injured, or were getting frustrated and no longer were able to compete. Steph was a true champion...

"And I'd like to get one more crack at him in Kitzbuehel," Rahlves said. "I always want to have all the best guys out there on race day. When you win with all the guys around, it makes it that much more rewarding."

"Steph lit it up out there. He was an animal on the hill...really, one of the ultimate competitors."

U.S. Alpine Director Jesse Hunt echoed Rahlves , praising Eberharter "because he always was such a class act. He had great success early, winning those titles [super G and combined] at the World Championships in '91. And then he had those knee injuries and battled back, coming up through the Europa Cup to get back on the Austrian team, to get back to the World Cup...and he was always gracious, always appreciative. He's a great ambassador for skiing and we certainly wish him the best of everything."
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