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Saturday, 10 February, 2001, 11:58 GMT
Austrian legend set to retire
Anita Wachter during the Women's Super G competition at the World Cup in 1993
Wachter entered Austria's history books in 1993
One of Austria's most successful skiers Anita Wachter has announced her retirement at the end of this season after a spectacular 17-year World Cup career.

"I will complete the season and then it's over," she said late Friday at a party attended by VIPs including Boris Becker to celebrate her 34th birthday on Monday.

Wachter, nicknamed the 'Piste Flea' for her slight physique, has won 19 World Cup races and collected eight medals from major events, including a combined gold at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

The skiing star, whose World Cup career started in 1984-85, is one of only six Austrian women to have lifted the coveted overall title when she managed the feat in 1993.

I have had more wonderful moments in my career than awful ones
  Anita Wachter
It has been a disappointing World Championships for Wachter who was hoping for a maiden gold in her signature giant slalom race in St Anton before crashing in her first run.

"It's a shame really, it would have been nice to have done well here. But that's life," she said.

Her unusual fit of tears in the finish area after the race showed her dismay, but the Austrian now claims she has recovered.

"It's okay, I feel better already. It was only a ski race," said Wachter who posted an intermediate time faster than that of eventual race winner, Switzerland's Sonia Nef.

"But I was nervous this morning and I didn't sleep very well last night. But I didn't feel nervous on the slope. I didn't feel more nervous than normal."

Low point

"I have had more wonderful moments in my career than awful ones."

A moment that Wachter would rather forget is the crash during a World Cup downhill in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, which nearly ended her career in 1998.

The 34-year-old suffered serious knee injuries in the 80-metre tumble which sidelined her from the Winter Olympics in Nagano.

But Wachter did not let that break her spirit and was back on the slopes the next season, winning four giant slaloms and only narrowly lose the discipline's World Cup title by 16 points to compatriot Alexandra Meissnitzer.

However, the crash did force the all-round talent who used to compete in all five Alpine events to quit the speed races.

Over her long and fruitful career, the only discipline that the all-round talent failed to win was the blue-riband downhill - a shortcoming she blamed on her frail 'piste-flea' physique.

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