Maddie Bowman celebrates at the FIS World Championships on Feb. 9, 2019 in Park City, Utah.
Maddie Bowman, the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in halfpipe skiing, is retiring from competitive skiing, ending one of the most decorated careers in the sport.
“I have decided to step away from halfpipe skiing for a simple reason,” Bowman said is a statement released by U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I have given everything I have to progress the sport and now I know the women after me will do an amazing job.”
While she won’t be competing anymore, Bowman said she will continue skiing, including a trip later this year to Chamonix, France, where she will “explore the backcountry and the big mountain side of things.”
A native of South Lake Tahoe, California, Bowman got her start on skis at age 2 and clinched her spot in Olympic history when she won the halfpipe gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, where the event was making its Olympic debut. Then 20 years old, Bowman set the high mark on the first run of the final, landing two 900s and two 720s, and then she outdid herself on the second run to claim the top two scores of the competition.
“I can’t believe it just happened,” she said afterward. “I felt every emotion, and I’m so happy.”
That she would thrive on the world stage was hardly a surprise to those who watched her win the previous two superpipe gold medals at the X Games.
And Bowman stayed among the sport’s elite, winning her ninth X Games medal (and fifth gold) in 2018, as well as earning a repeat trip to the Olympic Winter Games that year. Her experience in PyeongChang wasn’t as memorable, though, as she was unable to complete any of her three runs in the final.
“I just decided to go for it, and I wasn’t going to hold back,” she told reporters. “And I’m happy with how I skied. I’m really proud of these ladies out here today. I didn’t want to put down a safety run, so I went for it.”
One year later, Bowman finished sixth at the world championships in Utah, and she followed that with one more world cup event in March.
In addition to the Olympics and X Games, Bowman has thrived on other skiing circuits and developed a reputation for her technical ability, which led to her landing back-to-back 900s and the switch 900 in competition.
Bowman, who turned 26 earlier this month, initially planned to compete this season and was named to the 2019-20 U.S. Freeski Team in November. However, she announced her decision to retire on Monday without having competed in a major event yet this season.
In addition to pursuing more backcountry skiing opportunities, Bowman is working toward her bachelor’s degree in biology at Sierra Nevada College and aims to become a high school science teacher.