Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, the most decorated ski jumper in World Cup history, will return to competition this weekend after a year break.
Schlierenzauer announced on his 26th birthday last January that he would take an indefinite break from the sport.
“I want out of the spotlight,” Schlierenzauer said then, according to an International Ski Federation (FIS) translation. “Right now I simply don’t know what the future brings, I want to spark the passion again and become clear about how my way shall continue without any pressure.”
Then in March, Schlierenzauer suffered a torn ACL while skiing recreationally in Canada.
Schlierenzauer owns rock-star status in Austria, where he’s been known by a nickname — “Schlieri” — since he was a teen.
He owns a record 53 World Cup victories and individual gold or silver medals at each of the last four world championships. But he has not performed as well at the Olympics, picking up two bronze medals in 2010 and no medals in 2014. He also earned team gold in 2010 and silver in 2014.
Schlierenzauer’s last World Cup win was Dec. 6, 2014.
The new ski jumping stars are Poland’s Kamil Stoch — who swept the normal and large hill events in Sochi and just won his first Four Hills Tournament title — German Severin Freund and Slovenian brothers Domen and Peter Prevc.
MORE: Austrian ski jumper partially paralyzed after crash
GRAZ, Austria (AP) — Doctors say Austrian ski jumper Lukas Mueller has been left partially paralyzed after crashing in practice for the sky flying world championship.
Mueller sustained an “incomplete paraplegia” and has some sensitivity in his legs, according to chief surgeon Franz-Josef Seibert of the Graz hospital, where Mueller had emergency surgery on his spine on Wednesday.
Doctors operated to stabilize his spine after a fracture between the sixth and seventh vertebrae, but Mueller is unable to move his legs. He is able to breathe on his own.
Seibert and other doctors say it would be “not serious” to predict if and when Mueller could walk again.
Hospital director Gernot Brunner says it could take a year before doctors would have a better idea about the scope of the injury and Mueller’s prognosis.
MORE SKI JUMPING: Schlierenzauer wants out of spotlight, takes break
Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, the most decorated World Cup ski jumper in history, is taking an indefinite break from the sport, announcing the move on his 26th birthday on his website Thursday.
“I want out of the spotlight,” Schlierenzauer said, according to an International Ski Federation (FIS) translation. “Right now I simply don’t know what the future brings, I want to spark the passion again and become clear about how my way shall continue without any pressure.”
Schlierenzauer, 26, owns a record 53 World Cup victories but has not performed as well individually at the Olympics, picking up two bronze medals in 2010 and no medals in 2014. He also earned team gold in 2010 and silver in 2014.
Schlierenzauer also owns rock-star status in Austria, where he’s been known by a nickname — “Schlieri” — since he was a teen.
“I’m aware of the fact that I have certain obligations towards the public as a professional athlete, but I consider the superficial way certain media outlets acted and created an atmosphere disrespectful,” Schlierenzauer said, according to FIS. “In the past years certain things were published that were simply not true. From my point of view this has nothing to do with professionalism.
Schlierenzauer, a two-time winner of the prestigious Four Hills Tournament, finished 31st, 21st and 33rd in three stops at this season’s Four Hills before skipping the last event.
VIDEO: ‘Eddie the Eagle’ trailer for upcoming film on ski jumper