By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Olympian and World Cup Skier Laurenne Ross came out on top in the final race of her career Saturday.
She finished first in women’s downhill at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Aspen, Colorado.
“When I ended up winning the race, a couple family members and friends were like, ‘does this make you want to keep going, because you know you’re fast?'” Ross said. “Nope! I feel good about just going out with a win and being done.”
The 32-year-old announced last week she is retiring from her sport after a long career marked by both successes and setbacks from injuries.
She describes the motivation to retire as “a gut feeling.”
“I want to be able to hike when I’m older and I want to be able to use my body for the rest of my life, so I think it’s sort of a self-preservation tactic,” Ross said.
Ross is a two-time Olympian, having competed for the U.S. ski team in PyeongChang and Sochi.
But it all began on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor.
“That is where I spent most of my younger years learning how to ski well and creating all of these really incredible friendships that I still have,” Ross said.
With her competition days behind her, she is turning her attention to giving back to the ski community that lifted her up.
“Interacting with the kids is definitely my favorite way to give back,” Ross said. “Not only is it awesome and wonderful and so impactful for them, but it’s also really wonderful for me to see their faces light up and to see them so excited to be participating in a sport that has helped me grow and become who I am.”
She hopes to inspire young minds with what she’s done and all that she’s learned along the way.
“I would be really adamant about free skiing as much as you can and spending time with your family and friends and pushing yourself,” Ross said. “But in life, just trying to stay present and trying to be where you are and be grateful with what you have has been really huge for me.”