Paralympic ski queen retires

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:21 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- The 2010 Winter Games' queen of the hill is going out on top, but she's not shutting the door on returning for Sochi 2014.

"Athletes have come back and have had success after retirement and minds change," said Lauren Woolstencroft, who won five alpine skiing gold medals at the Winter Paralympics in March. "It's not my intention, but I wouldn't say never."


The 28-year-old Calgary native and North Vancouver resident announced the end of her 12-year Paralympic skiing career Thursday. She won half of Canada's 10 Paralympic gold medals on the slopes at Whistler Creekside, where Canada failed to win a single medal during February's Winter Olympics.

"I'm at the peak of my sport and I'm skiing well and it would be neat to push that and see how far I could go. It's not like I'm over the hill and washed up here," she said during a teleconference. "It was such an amazing experience having the Games here and obviously having my success, it certainly felt like the right time for me to go."


Woolstencroft set a record for most medals by an athlete at a single Winter Paralympics and matched Montreal wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc's five summer golds from Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Woolstencroft also had two Paralympic golds and a bronze in Salt Lake 2002 and a gold and silver at Turin 2006. She was named the International Paralympic Committee's top female athlete in 2007 and was world champion of four disciplines in 2009. She wears prosthetic limbs beneath her knees and below her left elbow.

"I hope to be remembered as someone who played a role in bringing Paralympic sport awareness in Canada to a higher level," she said.

Woolstencroft returned to her electrical engineering job at BC Hydro after a nine month leave of absence. She said she may become a ski coach, but her immediate priority is gaining a Professional Engineer designation.

"I'd like to have a family eventually," she said. "Retirement from the sport was obviously a big part in allowing me to further my career as an engineer and further my life on the personal side."


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