Two decades is a long time to do anything. Under the lights of the Night Race at Schladming, journeyman Julien Lizeroux of France called it a career. A popular fixture on the FIS World Cup since his debut in the Kitzbuehel slalom 21 years ago, Lizeroux, 41, chose Schladming for his swan song.
In 172 World Cup starts, Lizeroux ended his career with nine World Cup podiums and three victories. More notably, he took a pair of World Championship silver medals (slalom and combined) from the 2009 World Championships in Val d’Isere, and was a part of the 2017 gold medal team for France at the 2017 World Championships in St. Moritz.
The Moûtiers native who skied out of Club des Sports La Plagne was at the vanguard of a period of great French success in slalom that continues today. From his debut wins at classic slalom sites of Kitzbuehel and Kranjska Gora in 2009, Lizeroux, Jean-Baptiste Grange and later Alexis Pinturault were a dominant force in World Cup slalom. They served as role models for the rise of Clement Noel, who battled for the World Cup slalom title the last two years.
His third World Cup slalom win also came on a classic course, winning in Adelboden in 2010.
In his inaugural World Cup victory at Kitzbuehel in 2009, he led teammate Grange for the win.
A year later in his last World Cup win, he scored a stunning victory in Adelboden. After the first run, Lizeroux stood 12th – 1.15 seconds out. He came storming back on the steep pitch of the Chuenisbärgli with the fastest second run to clip Hirscher by nearly a second.
While he never won a World Cup title, Lizeroux was omnipresent on the white circus for much of his two decades. After his first race in January, 2000 at Kitzbuehel, it would be eight years before he began his move toward the top. He finished third in the chase for the slalom crystal globe in 2009 and second in 2010.
His moment in the sun came just a short distance from his home during the 2009 World Championships in Val d’Isere. In a scenario reminiscent of Ted Ligety’s Olympic gold in 2006, Lizeroux came back from 22nd in the combined downhill to make up nearly three seconds, putting down the fastest slalom time to take silver behind Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal.
A week later, Lizeroux came from behind to take silver in slalom. Fourth after the first run, Lizeroux skied strong in a brutal second run that savaged the field with Ligety and Sweden’s Johan Brolenius going out, vaulting the Frenchman up to second behind Austria’s Manfred Pranger.
At the 2017 World Championships in St. Moritz, he earned gold in the team event as a reserve on the winning French team.
Lizeroux announced his retirement Monday in classic style. He posted a video of himself starting the 2020 Night Race in Schladming, skiing a few gates then teleporting to his couch along with partner Tessa Worley. The post was aptly titled: “The End,” featuring background music of Jim Morrison and The Doors with their 1970 classic, “The End.”
The comments on his Instagram read like a who’s who of the White Circus over the past 30 years. And in the hundreds of well wishes one theme rang true. His friendship, his humor and his good nature were appreciated and will be missed.
In his finale at Schladming, he missed the second run cut, finishing 35th. And while Worley was not there to celebrate his career, she did Mark the occasion with her first victory in two years, winning in Kronplatz.