For him, and unless things turn around, it will be retirement at 23! Lucas Braathen, young Norwegian alpine skiing talent, winner of the slalom World Cup in 2023, announced on Friday that he was ending his career, amid conflict with his national federation.

On the eve of the opening of the first races of the 2023-2024 season, this weekend, in Sölden (Austria), Braathen took everyone by surprise during a press conference. “I hang up, it’s over for me,” he explained. For the first time in at least six months, I am happy after making this decision. For the first time in years, I feel free. »

The skier and his federation have disagreed for several years over the image rights of athletes. The conflict amplified this fall when the young champion, passionate about fashion, took part in an advertising campaign for a clothing brand competing with the one that sponsors the Norwegian federation. The latter announced this week that it was going to impose a fine on him.

” You can not do that ! »

“In order for me to continue skiing in this system, I don’t just have to put my dreams aside. I also have to put my joy aside. I’m not ready to do that,” added the Norwegian, who also said he was “happy” to announce his decision in Sölden, “the place where [he] won [his] very first race in World Cup”, in 2020.

On Friday, Norwegian federation officials expressed their “total surprise.” “I sincerely regret that Lucas has come to this conclusion,” reacted its president, Tove Moe Dyrhaug, in a press release. At the same time, we can only respect the decision he made. »

Shortly after this announcement, some athletes paid tribute to him. French downhiller Johan Clarey, who hung up his skis in March at age 42, famously exclaimed: “You can’t do that! Guys like you are so important in our sport. »

Since 2020, Lucas Braathen has won five World Cups. During the winter of 2022-2023, he won the small slalom globe, reaching the podium seven times in the World Cup, including three times on the highest step (two in slalom, one in giant).