Kaitlyn Farrington, the surprise Sochi Olympic halfpipe champion, is retiring less than a year after winning gold due to a congenital spine condition she learned of in the fall, according to ESPN.com.
Farrington, 25, has congenital cervical stenosis and was told by a doctor she can never snowboard again, according to the report.
“I thought I was too young to hear the word ‘retirement,'” Farrington told ESPN, adding she learned of the condition after an October snowboarding crash in Austria. “There’s so much I still want to do in the halfpipe. I thought I’d be pushing the sport for many more years and try to make the Olympic team in 2018. But the risk of snowboarding in a halfpipe or hitting jumps is too high. It’s been tough to accept, but I’m retiring from competitive snowboarding.”
Farrington won gold in Sochi over the previous three Olympic champions — Torah Bright, Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter.
The rider raised on an Idaho cattle ranch was considered questionable to make the U.S. Olympic team entering winter qualifying, but she beat two-time Olympians Gretchen Bleiler and Elena Hight to join Clark, Teter and World champion Arielle Gold on the four-woman squad.
At the Olympics, her second-run final score of 91.75 edged the Australian Bright by .25 for gold in the closest Olympic halfpipe competition ever.
In September, Farrington said she wanted to compete in slopestyle at the Dew Tour Mountain Championships in December, but she did not end up riding.
Farrington won Winter X Games silver in 2011 and bronze in 2014.