Its been a good ride with moments of greatness. Its also been a long ride.
But more than 18 years since he donned his first bib, Canadas Mark Fawcett is finally ready to retire from competitive snowboarding. This weekends World Cup parallel slalom is his last race.
He was actually mulling retirement earlier this year, when he was suddenly called into action at Valle Nevado, Chile. Jaysey-Jay Anderson, Canadas top snowboarder, suffered a concussion in the snowboard cross event and was forced to withdraw from the parallel giant slalom on the following day.
Although he was only there to do a bit of riding, do a photo shoot, and support his teammates, Fawcett decided he couldnt let the open spot for Canada go to waste. He suited up, and after breezing through the qualifier and elimination rounds, he found himself in second place with a silver medal around his neck.
The medal tempted him to get back on the World Cup circuit, but after mulling it over he decided it was time to retire.
"Im still out there ripping, and will continue to do so, just not on the World Cup race circuit. Im not doing it for FIS anymore, but more for myself," said the 30-year-old Fawcett, who hails from New Brunswick and is currently based at Mt. Hood in Oregon.
According to Fawcett, racing was "becoming a bad habit, and at a high level it costs a fortune," he said. "Over the years its gone from a money-making career to the athletes paying money to continue with the habit."
In the future, Fawcett will build and market his own line of snowboards, FOZZboards, through Prior Snowboards of Whistler, and he is working on a television show for CTV that could be picked up by the Outdoor Life Network.
Theres no question that Fawcett has earned a good retirement party this weekend.
In his career, he has earned 14 World Cup titles, three U.S. Open championships, and has represented Canada in the Winter Olympics twice. At his first Olympic appearance in 1998, he was almost a second ahead of other competitors when the screws that hold his binding in place snapped off and he crashed into the fence in sight of the finish line.
He was also a force on the now defunct International Snowboard Federation Circuit, winning several racing titles, and making dozens of podium appearances. In 1995, he was named the ISFs Snowboarder of the Year.