Bellevue’s Paul McDonald, a product of Crystal Mountain, announced his retirement from the U.S. Ski Team on Wednesday morning.
The 2004 NCAA slalom champion at Dartmouth finished his career with two top-three finishes in a race at Mission Ridge near Wenatchee.
“It was incredible to be a part of such an awesome team,” McDonald said in a statement released by the team. “You can always look at ski racing and want to do more in the sport, but what I’ve learned in this sport will absolutely help me in the next step of my career.”
McDonald’s career was hampered by back problems in recent years. He started 14 World Cup races. The 25-year-old plans to pursue a career in finance.
McDonald grew up skiing at Crystal with fellow Team USA members Scott Macartney and Libby Ludlow. Ludlow retired in ’08 and Macartney retired in March.
Will Brandenburg, a 2010 Olympian from Spokane, is the only remaining team member from Washington. Vanessa Berther of Bellevue and Colby Granstrom of Lake Stevens are on the developmental team.
Read the release from the U.S. Ski Team:
After two podiums at the FIS Spring Series at Mission Ridge, WA, including a slalom win to close the event, Dartmouth alum and former NCAA slalom champion Paul McDonald (Bellevue, WA) announced his retirement from ski racing following four seasons with the U.S. Alpine Ski Team.
“It was incredible to be a part of such an awesome team,” said McDonald, a product of the Crystal Mountain racing program and 2004 NCAA champion before making the jump to the U.S. Ski Team prior to his senior year at Dartmouth. “You can always look at ski racing and want to do more in the sport, but what I’ve learned in this sport will absolutely help me in the next step of my career.”
A 2006 Dartmouth grad in economics, McDonald moved through the college circuit and traveled with the U.S. Ski Team during the winter of 2005 before making the squad later that spring and jumping directly into the Europa Cup where he scored a second place slalom finish in the fall of 2007. He had 14 World Cup starts, including major starts at Wengen, Switzerland, and Kitzbuehel and Schladming, Austria, before retiring.
“I never would have made the national team had I not gone to college and I have my coach Peter Dodge from Dartmouth to thank for that,” said McDonald. “His program and coaching style helped me to relax in the start gate. But I also have to thank my club coach Alan Lauba from Crystal Mountain just for getting me excited about ski racing. Both of those guys helped point me in the right direction.”
Nagging back problems the past two seasons may have slowed McDonald’s ski racing career, but it didn’t weigh into his decision to step aside from the sport.
“Throughout his career, Paul has always wanted to improve,” said men’s alpine Head Coach Sasha Rearick. “We brought Paul directly from the college circuit to the World Cup and his energy was an instant boost this team. It brought the entire group up because he was excited to get better and ultimately it made us all better.”
“I’m going to look back and be happy with my career,” McDonald said. “I was able to go to some pretty incredible places with some even more incredible people. Kicking around on the Europa Cup isn’t exactly the most glamorous way to travel around Europe skiing, but with the people it can be a lot of fun.”
For teammate and 2010 Olympian Will Brandenburg (Spokane, WA), having McDonald around was always a plus for everyone.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better teammate,” said Brandenburg. “We were roommates for most of the Europa Cup, so you get to know a guy pretty well. I’ve never seen someone so competitive at dry land training as Paul. He definitely made the most out of every workout. It’s tough to see athletes you respect so much move away from skiing, but he’s a determined guy and will do well.”
McDonald is currently pursuing a career in finance, but is leaning toward product services and management, especially relating to sports.
“Through skiing, I’ve made a lot of professional connections and those people are teaching me a lot. I’d like to show that my experience as and elite athlete can help in business and I’m sure that it will,” he said. “It’s just about talking to the right people and finding out the right path.”