Although Ivica Kostelic dropped hints of retirement at several points last season after having struggled with debilitating knee issues in recent years, the 36-year-old Croatian star expressed his wishes to compete through the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics if possible in an interview with Croatian publication Sportske Novosti.
The announcement came as a surprise to many, as Kostelic strongly hinted that last season’s Kranjska Gora World Cup races could be his last. He then suggested that finishing his career on home snow in Zagreb this approaching winter was also appealing.
The 2011 overall World Cup champion more recently indicated that his knee is now virtually pain-free in everyday life, although he still struggles with chronic pain once he finds himself on snow.
“There are no special problems with it,” he explained. “The pain occurs in extreme efforts and unfortunately on skis, always. It’s an injury or series of injuries that occurred on skis and the consequences are most felt on skis.”
Kostelic also spoke of the large number of athletes over age 30 who are still ranked inside the World Cup top 30 and points to the upcoming Olympics as a possible reason why many athletes – himself included – have not called it a career just yet.
“World Cup, at least as far as the technical disciplines, is very old,” he said. “The change of generations might not happen this year, I think everyone might be waiting for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang 2018.”
“I should not give up hope,” he continued. “We’ll see how the knee will be. I’m not sure if it will at all be possible. I will try to drive to PyeongChang!”