Ingemar Stenmark, the master technician who racked up more World Cup victories than any other skier, hung up his bindings after his last race today. It was an anticlimactic end to a brilliant career for the Swedish star because he missed a gate just seconds after he started, disqualifying him on his first run of a World Cup slalom race in central Japan. Stenmark had previously said that this would be his last event.
But Stenmark, who turns 33 in a week, said he was not disappointed that his finale was such a flop. “It’s a sunny day, a good day to end,” he said. “I’m tired and want to stop.”
Stenmark had 86 World Cup victories in his 16-year career, all in the slalom and giant slalom, establishing a record that is considered unbreakable.
At the finish area, he was presented a bouquet, sweater and medal, and he posed for photographers as fans shouted his name and some released balloons.
Stenmark leaves the sport a champion. Three weeks ago he snatched his final World Cup title, a grand slalom in Aspen, Colo.
In an interview with Japanese television, Stenmark bade a simple farewell.
“Thank you, everybody,” he said in Japanese. “Sayonara. “