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Stéphane Lambiel Closes the Book on Competitive Career

It is official: Stéphane Lambiel announced today he is retiring from competitive figure skating. “You can only win when you are fully fit, but my body does not allow that any more,” Lambiel said at a press conference held in Bern, Switzerland. “I hope everyone under- stands that after winning gold at Worlds twice and silver at the Olympic Games, I aim for nothing less than gold medals."

The news came as a surprise as Lambiel had been preparing for the upcoming season. In early October he told IFS his goals for the 2008-09 season were to regain his World title (he won the title in 2005 and 2006) and win the gold medal at the 2009 European Championships.

However, in the world of sports, things can change quickly. Hampered by an injury to the adductor muscle in his left leg, Lambiel took time off and underwent extensive treatment this summer. He resumed his workout regimen but the pain persisted.

Lambiel saw his doctor earlier this month. He then withdrew from his Grand Prix assignments and called a press conference. Lambiel indicated that he will still perform in shows and on tours.

The Swiss star broke the news to his coaching staff yesterday, according to Nina Petrenko. Her husband Viktor Petrenko was Lambiel’s head coach, and her mother Galina Zmievskaia also worked with the Swiss star at the Ice Vault in Wayne, N.J.

“He said his injury was still bothering him, and he took a lot of time off and had a lot of treatment [already],” Nina Petrenko told IFS. “We accept his decision.

“It is sad. He is an amazing skater. At the same time though, we support him. If feels he can not do it, then he can’t. There is a lot of work, a lot of strict work. It takes a lot out of your body.”

Nina Petrenko said that even though Lambiel only trained at the Ice Vault for a short period of time, his coaches will miss him. “He is great person, beyond his talent,” she said. “He is funny, he is well educated speaking many languages. We love him and he will always be our friend.”

She applauded Lambiel for his honesty. “He said it early enough that we did not put so much work into him," she said, "although we do not regret a second of the time we worked with him.

“It is unfortunate. It is sad. Maybe he will come back,” she concluded. “It is not like he is losing his [eligible] status.”

Nina Petrenko pointed out that Johnny Weir also trains at the Ice Vault and that Zmievskaia (Weir’s primary coach) and Viktor Petrenko were busy working with him. Weir opens his season at 2008 Skate America, which is scheduled for Oct. 23-26 in Everett, Wash. “We won't have any more comments,” Nina Petrenko said.

To see our past articles on Lambiel, go to our NEWS FORUM and scroll down.