German slalom expert Neureuther announces retirement


Berlin (AFP)

German slalom specialist Felix Neureuther has announced he will hang up his skis following Sunday's race at the World Cup finals.

"My heart, and above all, my body have made it clear to me in recent months that it is time to finish this wonderful chapter of ski racing," he wrote on Instagram.

The final race of his career will be the men's slalom at the season finals in Soldeu, Andorra.

The 34-year-old is Germany's most successful male World Cup skier with 13 event wins -- 12 slalom victories and one in the giant slalom -- since starting as a 19-year-old in 2004.

But the wins have dried up and his most recent World Cup victory was in November 2017 in Levi, Finland, just a fortnight before suffering a serious knee injury.

He never won an Olympic medal, but has the complete set of one gold, one silver and three bronze medals at world alpine championships. His gold came in the team event at Bormio in 2005.

There then followed an eight-year wait before Neureuther took individual slalom silver behind Austrian ski ace Marcel Hirscher at the 2013 championships in Schladming, the same year he also landed a bronze with Germany in the team event.

Bronze worlds medals also followed in the men's individual slalom event at Beaver Creek in 2015 and St Moritz in 2017.

Neureuther, who was born in Bavaria and a is a close friend of former Germany and Bayern Munich footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger, has battled injury in recent years, most significantly the cruciate knee ligament tear that halted his progress in 2017.

He is married to Germany's twice world biathlon team world champion Miriam Neureuther, née Goessner