For her last run Nicole Schmidhofer had chosen a costume from her Styrian homeland. One day after her 34th birthday the successful speed specialist said goodbye to the professional skiing stage after more than 16 years in the World Cup.
The biggest successes in the 16-year career of the 34-year-old Styrian were the world championship title in super-G in 2017 and the bullet win in downhill (2018/19). She has finished on the podium twelve times in the World Cup. In addition, it still holds the Austrian speed record with 217.59 km/h.
"Exactly 16 years ago today I celebrated my World Cup debut, so for me it's come full circle and I look back on my World Cup time with great gratitude," Schmidhofer said. "My decision feels right and good." Until the end, the woman from Lachtal struggled with the aftermath of a serious knee injury. In a crash in the Val d'Isere downhill on December 19, 2020, she suffered a complex dislocation fracture that resulted in the tearing of all ligaments in her left knee joint.
"I have only realized in recent weeks that the injury has left more traces than I thought. I can no longer drive so freely on it and it also no longer stands for me to take full risk," said Schmidhofer. "Also, the serious injury has shifted the value for me. That's why it's time for me to set my sights on new tasks and challenges and look forward to a new chapter in my life."
Schmidhofer did manage to find her way back and made her comeback less than a year later in Lake Louise. However, the speed specialist, who won many fans with her cheerful, upbeat manner, has not been able to match her successful time before the fall. Schmidhofer won a total of four World Cup races (three downhill, one super-G) and was on the podium a further eight times. After winning the World Cup title, she took a detour and cracked the 200 km/h sound barrier at the 2019 World Speed Ski Championships in Vars. With 217.59 km/h, she secured the Austrian record.
Dear Nici, you were a great role model for many female athletes through your successful career but also through your manner. Thank you for your promotion of skiing, the great time together and we hope that you will continue to stay in skiing.