Former German ski world champion Kathrin Hoelzl, 29, announced Monday she was retiring from competition following years of health problems, SID, an AFP subsidiary, reported.

"The last two and a half years were difficult, all the doctor's appointments... I was never pain-free," the 2009 giant slalom world champion told journalists in Austria, where the German team is doing pre-season training.

"It hasn't really got better, even if on a daily basis, things are ok and I can jog again.

"For high-performance sports unfortunately, it's no longer enough. For that reason, I am now ending my career," she added.

Hoelzl, a former junior national champion, caused a sensation in Val d'Isere in February 2009, by taking the world giant slalom title with only two top-three finishes in the World Cup under her belt.

In November and December of that year, she went on to score her only two World Cup wins, first in Aspen and then in Lienz -- both again in the giant slalom -- and at the end of the season took the crystal globe in that discipline.

Chronic back problems however soon sidelined her. Her last race was in Lienz in December 2011, where she failed to finish.

Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch praised her teammate on Monday, calling her "a giant slalom icon" in the German team.

The new ski season kicks off in the Austrian resort of Soelden on October 26-27, with the women's and men's giant slalom races.

 

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