Anja Sofia Tess Pärson
Anja Pärson announced her retirement from competitive World Cup alpine skiing on the 12th of this month, and while I wouldn't have thought myself a devoted fan of hers (in the strict sense) [!] I was nevertheless saddened at the news. Anja has been a very special skier for me in the last few years, as she has been someone whom I was familiar with before my skiing hiatus of 2002 to 2009. She tied together two era's that would have been otherwise alien to me. And as strange as it might seem, it was only December last year that I finally got to hear her speaking in Swedish, for an extended period anyway. Relevant video below.
It's understandable that she has decided to quit now. As she said herself in a recent interview "we all have to to die, you know. Skiers must eventually quit the World Cup." Following her thoughts on Twitter throughout the season, it was clear that her fight and ambition was beginning to leave her. Her fear of injury overcame her on one or two occasions, and who can blame her. She has done everything she could have hoped for. Why risk a life altering injury at this stage.
Anja training in November 2011 - Anja and Maria Riesch celebrating their Olympic medal wins in the 2010 Super Combined race
I missed her last race on Saturday last, which I would have liked to have seen, but circumstances were against me. My most memorable moment of Anja will be her bronze medal win for the Super Combined competition at the 2010 Vancover Olympics. Coming just one day after a horrific accident in the downhill event, it was a surprise that she even competed again in the Games', but that type of courage and strength is the definition of Pärson.
This is where you play the ABBA music and gently weep as you watch the earliest footage of Anja that I recorded on VHS tape (circa 1999/2000). Or maybe that's just for me to do. A chapter is ending, but the book remains open.
[ Bonus: video of 14 year old Anja in 1995 ]
[ Training picture via Jessica Lindel-Vikarby's blog post ]
Posted at 03:56