Burlington, VT — German snowboarder Nicola Thost, one of the most influential riders in women’s snowboarding, has decided to end her professional snowboarding career this summer.

At the height of her career, Nicola became the first Olympic Gold Medalist in snowboarding history, winning the halfpipe event at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan, where snowboarding made its debut as an Olympic sport. She then went on to win the coveted US Open Snowboarding Championship halfpipe event two years in a row, a feat that only a handful of snowboarders in the world have achieved.

In recent years, Nicola was plagued by three different knee injuries. However, she always maintained a positive outlook and came back strong. In 2002, she won the Sims World Championships and then secured first place at the Nippon Open Halfpipe competition, proving to the snowboard world that she was still a competitive force to be reckoned with.

Following her win at the Nippon Open, Nicola was the first-place qualifier for the finals of the US Open. Unfortunately, Nicola injured her knee again during the US Open finals. After realizing that she was at high risk for sustaining irreversible injuries and spending more time with doctors than on the hill, Nicola finalized her decision to retire from competitive snowboarding.

“I feel lucky that I had the chance to live snowboarding within some of its best years, getting great support from people around me and traveling the world,” says Nicola. “After all the challenges and inspiration I experienced in the snowboarding circuit, I am now looking forward to creating new things from a different perspective.”

Although Nicola will no longer be competing, she will remain heavily involved in the snowboarding world. Recently, Nicola was invited to work with Ticket To Ride (TTR), the qualification system that surrounds Terje Haakonsen’s Arctic Challenge contest. She will also pursue a degree in sports management while working with TTR.

“Nicola Thost has been inspirational to snowboarding,” says Drew Stevenson, Ticket To Ride spokesperson. “She balanced power, speed and technique, redefining what was regarded possible. While we will miss her charging the pipe, or any other obstacle in her path, losing someone like Nicola from the sport altogether is totally unthinkable. So, we are stoked to invite Nicola to help investigate women’s snowboarding in the Ticket to Ride system.”

Nicola ends her competitive snowboarding career with an impressive legacy, having won many of the world’s most challenging snowboarding competitions. For several years, Nicola had a Burton pro model that she designed and perfected. Nicola always pushed the limits of women’s snowboarding with some of the most technical trick combinations in the halfpipe. She was the first female rider to land back-to-back 720s in competitions. Her innovative style and trick arsenal inspired many young women to take the sport to new levels.

“I’ve been on the hill with Nicola many times,” says Burton Global Team Director Rene Hansen. “Her riding style was so progressive and aggressive that many of the guys were intimidated by her when they were out hitting the same kickers and halfpipes. All pro riders could learn from her professionalism and dedication to the sport.”

The entire Burton Snowboards family thanks Nicola for her valuable contributions to the sport and Burton Snowboards. We wish her the best of luck in her new pursuits.

Consumers can learn more about Burton Snowboards by calling Burton Rider Service: (800) 881-3138.

Burton Snowboards, the world’s first snowboard factory, is a pure snowboard company solely dedicated to creating and perfecting a full-range of the best snowboarding equipment on the planet. Led by founder and owner Jake Burton, widely considered the pioneer of snowboarding, Burrton’s passion is snowboarding – evident by their overriding mission to open snowboarding at every mountain resort. Why aren’t you riding? CCelebrating 25 years in 2002, Burton has fueled the growth of snowboarding worldwide through continuous work with, and support of, their Global Team riders and development of successful programs such as Learn-To-Ride (LTR), The Chill Foundation, and the US Open Snowboarding Championships. Don’t make excuses. Headquartered in Burlington, Vermont with international offices in Innsbruck, Austria and Tokyo, Japan, Burton, the industry leader, is the brand of choice for millions around the world. There is snow somewhere.