Kelownas Ryan Oughtred, a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team since 1995, ended his career on a high note, finishing second in the giant slalom at the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships in Whistler at the beginning of March.
The 26-year-old, who now lives in Whistler, decided to retire after competing in the final NorAm Cup race at Nakiska, Alberta, two weeks ago the same hill where his career almost ended when he tore ligaments in his knee four seasons ago.
"I knew Nakiska was my last race and I felt sad going up the chair," Oughtred said. "I had all those memories about growing up and wanting to be the best in the world."
Oughtred said he wasnt skiing as well as he wanted to this season, failing to crack the top 30 and qualify for a second run in any of the World Cup giant slaloms he raced in this season.
"I always had the commitment and I was always prepared to put in the work. I love the sport. I had a lot of fun racing, but Im most proud of coming back from those surgeries," said Oughtred.
"I was out of racing for a year and a half and there were a lot of days when I thought Id be limping around for the rest of my life."
Joze Sparovec, the vice-president of athletics for Alpine Canada Alpin, said Oughtred will be missed by the team.
"Ski racing is often looked at as an individual sport, but there are many people who make up our team," he said. "Ryan was one of our classy guys. He loved racing and gave it all he had."
Oughtred won the NorAm Cup overall giant slalom title in 1997, and previous to his injury enjoyed moderate success on the World Cup circuit where he was ranked 40 th in the GS. His comeback was promising, and both Thomas Grandi and Jean-Philippe Roy credit Oughtreds skiing for pushing them to get better results. He has spent the last few seasons racing primarily in NorAm competitions, where he was consistently in the top 10.
Oughred grew up racing for Apex, Silver Star and then Big White resorts. His parents, Cliff Oughtred and Amanda Shaw are both ski instructors, racing coaches and technical delegates.
"The sport has given back so much more than I ever imagined it could," said Oughtred. "Through my years as a racer I have come across so many amazing individuals that made this sport possible.
"Like your typical teenager, I took for granted all of the work and heart that went into those races. If only there were a way to let all of those people know how much I have valued their help and participation all so that I could simply have a chance to find out just how good I could be. Well I found out, and I am forever grateful."