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.