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Olympic speedskater Katherine Reutter announces retirement

Photo: David E. Klutho/SI

Short track speedskater Katherine Reutter won silver in the 1000 meter event at the Vancouver Olympics.

Two-time Olympic medal-winning short-track speedskater Katherine Reutter announced her retirement on Tuesday, citing the toll training was taking on her oft-injured body.

The 24-year-old speedskater, who is based in Salt Lake City, had been aiming for a berth on the U.S. team for the Sochi Olympics a year from now. She won a silver medal in the 1,000 meters and a bronze in team relay at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

But she had been dogged by injuries, having underdone three hip surgeries and two major back injuries despite her youth. She had been pain free again only in recent months.

"I have been struggling with injuries for quite some time and have come to the realization that my body can no longer withstand the demands of training at this level," Reutter said.

She won the 1,500-meter world title in 2011, the first American woman to do so since Bonnie Blair in 1986. She was the overall World Cup champion that same year. She won 34 medals in World Cup competition, 42 medals in international events, and was a four-time U.S. champion in the 1,000.

Reutter became interested in speedskating after meeting five-time Olympic champion Blair at her high school in their shared hometown of Champaign, Ill.

"Since the first time we met I knew that Katherine had something special," her former coach, Michael McDonnell, said. "She sat in my office as a 16-year-old and said, `Coach, I'm going to be in the Olympics.' I believed her and have enjoyed every minute of her climb to the top."

Reutter said she plans to finish her degree in exercise physiology at Salt Lake Community College and pursue a career in health and fitness. She will continue serving as one of three athlete representatives on the U.S. Speedskating board of directors through 2014. She plans to be in Poland for the Junior Short Track world championships as the team leader.

"Her announcement is bittersweet for all of us, but it takes a great deal of maturity and a keen understanding of one's limitations for a world-class athlete like Katherine to make the decision to retire," said Mark Greenwald, executive director of U.S. Speedskating.

Reutter had been sidelined during the recent coaching controversy in her sport. Former U.S. coach Jae Su Chun had called her "fat" and pushed her to skate at times she thought were physically and mentally impossible. Chun and his assistant Jun Hyung Cho both resigned in October after accepting suspensions from U.S. Speedskating through February 2014.

Chun had denied accusations by a dozen national team members of physical, emotional and verbal abuse, and of ordering speedskater Simon Cho to sabotage the skates of a Canadian rival.

Reutter had been careful to try to remain neutral because of her role as an athlete rep with U.S. Speedskating.

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