Iouri Podladtchikov, the only man other than Shaun White to win an Olympic halfpipe title in the last four Winter Games, said Sunday that he retired from competition, confirming a report from his native Switzerland.
Podladtchikov, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist known as I-Pod, had few contests since missing the PyeongChang Winter Games after suffering a traumatic brain injury and cerebral hemorrhages in a Winter X Games crash two weeks before the Olympics.
In December 2018, Podladtchikov suffered a concussion and broken nose in a crash at his comeback event in China.
Two months later, he ruptured an Achilles tendon while at the world championships in Park City, requiring surgery and ultimately becoming the biggest challenge of his career, according to Sunday’s report in Tages Anzeiger.
Yet Podladtchikov, 31, returned to compete one last time at the Laax Open, the biggest annual contest in Switzerland, last January, placing fifth. He didn’t want an injury to determine the end of his career, though he knew that Laax could have marked his farewell, he said, according to Tages Anzeiger.
His career highlight was undoubtedly the Sochi Olympics, where he overcame a slushy halfpipe to land his signature YOLO Flip, a cab double cork 1440, to spoil White’s Olympic three-peat bid. White, a friend, finished fourth.
“I can’t tell you how special this is,” Podladtchikov, who was born in Russia and competed as a Russian at his first Olympics in 2006, told NBC that night. “The people are yelling in Russian, and I’m yelling back in Russian.”
It marked Podladtchikov’s last major win. Earlier in his career, Podladtchikov won the 2013 World title and finished runner-up at the X Games in Aspen in 2010 and 2012.
Podladtchikov, who speaks four languages, was also known for an array of interests. He did photography, trained ballet and studied art history at the University of Zurich.
White took back the Olympic crown in 2018 in Podladtchikov’s absence and is expected to bid for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
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