Lucas Braathen, top slalom skier, retires just before season starts

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Lucas Braathen, the reigning World Cup slalom season champion, announced his retirement at age 23 in a press conference on Friday, two days before the first men’s race of the season, according to Norwegian media.

Braathen said that he decided four weeks ago to end his career after being unhappy for the previous six months. He feels free for the first time in years.

He also was reported to have said that the Norwegian Ski Association has treated athletes extremely disrespectfully.

Norwegian media reported that Braathen has a long-standing conflict with the federation over athlete marketing rights, which includes a recent photo shoot with a brand that was unauthorized.

MORE: Alpine skiing broadcast schedule

Braathen’s press conference was held in Soelden, Austria, site of season-opening women’s and men’s giant slaloms on Saturday and Sunday.

Three years ago, Braathen won the season opener, becoming the youngest man to win a World Cup race in six years and the first male winner born in the 2000s. The Alpine world learned about the long-haired Norwegian with a Brazilian mother who grew up playing soccer.

After failing to finish his two 2022 Olympic races, Braathen won three times last season and was the top slalom skier over the course of the World Cup season.

He underwent appendix surgery during the season on Jan. 31 and returned for the world championships slalom on Feb. 19, finishing seventh.

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