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Lepisto announces retirement from competition

Finnish skater won 2009 European title, 2010 world bronze medal

With a world bronze medal, European title and two Finnish championships to her credit, Laura Lepistö is waving good-bye to the sport of figure skating.
With a world bronze medal, European title and two Finnish championships to her credit, Laura Lepistö is waving good-bye to the sport of figure skating. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(03/25/2012) - Sometimes you just can't fake it.

Laura Lepistö, Finland's most decorated skater, has retired from competition.

The 23-year-old has battled injuries to her Achilles' tendon, back and foot the past two seasons.

"I tried to make a comeback many times, but it felt like the rug was always pulled from under my feet," Lepistö said in a statement released by the Finnish Figure Skating Association (FFSA). "My feet couldn't stand hard training. The decision has been quite clear to me for the whole winter, even though I wanted to leave the door open for as long as possible."

In addition to her deteriorating physical condition, Lepistö pointed out that a lack of competitive fire contributed to her decision to hang up her skates.

"I have always had a strong attitude toward training, and I have enjoyed working hard. It wouldn't have made sense to continue this work with half power," Lepistö said. "Eighty percent efficiency wouldn't have been enough for me, because I'm used to working 150 percent."

The skater won the 2009 European Figure Skating Championships, making her the first Finnish lady to take gold at the event. It was only the second time a Finn had ever won the European crown, after ice dancers Susanna Rahkomo and Petri Kokko pulled off the feat in 1995. She also won two national titles and placed sixth at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Lepistö will likely be best remembered for her controversial bronze medal at the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships in Torino, Italy, where her clean, elegant skating was rewarded despite a relative lack of triple jumps. It was the first time a Finnish lady had won a world medal.

After that, injuries kicked in, and she has not competed since.

"I have accomplished everything I wanted from my sports career, and in fact I have achieved even more than I could ever imagine," Lepistö said. "I can only be happy and proud of my achievements and all the extraordinary moments I have gotten to experience during my career. Being aware of this has made it easier to make the decision."

Lepistö plans to participate in shows and will also continue her studies at Aalto University School of Economics in Helsinki.

"It has been wonderful to realize how you just feel it when the decision [you make] is right -- an end of a period of time and a start of another," Lepistö said. "I'm positive that life will offer challenges and all kinds of wonderful things also in the future."

Lepistö's retirement comes on the heels of another disappointment for Finnish skating. Last week, Kiira Korpi, the reigning European silver medalist, withdrew from the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, France, with leg injuries. She has been replaced by Alisa Mikonsaari, a two-time Finnish junior champion who placed sixth at the Finnish championships this season.

Information from the Finnish Figure Skating Association (FFSA) contributed to this report.