Summerland’s Kristi Richards, a two-time Olympic mogul skier announced her retirement from the Canadian Freestyle Ski team on Wednesday.
After 11 years on the national team, the 2007 world champion in single moguls holds an impressive record of 82 FIS World Cup starts, with 12 podium appearances. She competed in four world championships events, including in Madonna, Italy where she won.
The highlight of her athletic career were her two Olympic Games; 2006 in Torino, Italy where she finished seventh and 2010 in Vancouver where after qualifying fourth, a fall in her final run cost her a chance at the podium and put her in 20th spot.
“My standout memories are definitely both from my Olympic experiences,” said Richards. “In 2006 I was in awe of the Olympic Games and really felt like I was representing my country for the first time. The Vancouver Games was a whole other level, the support we had leading up to 2010 was amazing, especially from programs like Own the Podium which gave athletics in Canada a real boost.
“In 2010 standing in the [start] gate, knowing I was ready, that I had poured everything I had into this moment, that I had the capability to win gold, that was the pinnacle of my career.”
Richards, who took the 2012 season off, said that while she still loves skiing more than ever and although she is still at the top of her game, her passion for the lifestyle of competitive sport has left her.
“It’s been many factors all at once,” said Richards, adding that she was pulled by outside factors and has huge plans for the future.
Last year she and a friend opened an artisan store in Pemberton, B.C. called One Earth Collection. She’ll keep managing the store, but also plans to open a yoga studio and to attend full-time school to become a registered holistic nutritionist in the fall. She also plans to give back to the sport by doing a little coaching and hopes to inspire some young athletes to follow their dreams.
“I guess you could say I’m going at life with the same intensity I had in skiing,” said Richards, “It’s just a little more diverse. Skiing took every ounce of my being since I was 12 years old, making the decision to retire will allow for a lot of different things in my life.”
Richards added that she will be forever grateful for what her ski career brought to her life. “Skiing has been an opportunity and a vehicle for learning and growing. It taught me how to take on a challenge, how to plan and stay dedicated and gave me strength; those things are priceless,” she said. “This is the hardest decision that I have ever made in my life, but I know it is also one of the most profound things that sport will teach me. It is the lesson of listening to my heart and intuition. It’s time to move on and be passionate about other things.”
CFSA CEO Peter Judge said that Richards’ departure will be a loss to the team. “She’s been a big part of our program for a long time and has done so many great things in her career, not the least of which was winning the World Championships. Myself and the rest of the team are disappointed to see someone of her caliber leave, but at the same time we respect that she knows what’s best for her and I’m certain she’ll be just as successful in her life outside sport as she has been in her athletic career.
Check Wednesday’s issue of the Penticton Western News for more.