Report: Croatian ski sensation Kostelic considers quitting
Updated: Thursday February 15, 2001 9:36 PM
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- Janica Kostelic, Croatia's teen-age sensation, may quit her skiing career because of an avalanche of criticism after her disappointing performance at the recent world championship, according to her father.
"She is quitting at the end of the season," Ante Kostelic told the daily Vjesnik in an interview published Tuesday.
Ante Kostelic is also his daughter's coach and has been the driving force behind her rise to stardom.
"She said that she would like to finish school and then enroll into college to study physical education because she is no longer happy and would like to have friends that she has never had the chance to meet due to her ski career," he was quoted as saying.
Kostelic, who leads overall standings in the World Cup, took the ski world by the storm when she won her first race at 17. She came back from a nearly shattered knee to win seven straight slalom races this season.
She was the overwhelming favorite for the gold medal in the combined event and the slalom at the world championship last week in the Austrian resort of St. Anton.
But Kostelic buckled under pressure and fell in the slalom leg of the combined event and then finished a disappointing fifth in the slalom proper.
The news that Kostelic may quit sent shock waves across the country, but many shrugged the notion off as an impulsive stunt by her often sensationalistic father.
"I know Janica's frame of mind like nobody else and when she says no, she means no," her father said in the interview.
But the head of the Croatian ski federation, Vedran Pavlek, denied the news Tuesday, saying Janica was under considerable media pressure and that it is was her dad's way of appealing for some slack.
"The statement was impulsive and I'm sure that the trademark smile on Janica's face as she comes down the slopes cannot be taken off so easily," Pavlek told the Associated Press.
"Janica skis all four disciplines and she is under mounting pressure from all sides who want a piece of her.
"I'm sure, though, that she won't quit, she loves it too much," Pavlek said.
Kostelic herself could not be reached for comment.