U.S. women's bobsled pilot Shauna Rohbock needed to make a decision: more medals or less pain. The choice wasn't difficult.
"I'm tired of hurting," Rohbock said.
So with that, she's sliding into retirement - with one more medal for her collection.
Shauna Rohbock, front, and Valerie Fleming retired after racking up more than 20 international medals, including silver at the Turin Games.
(AP Photo — Michael Sohn)
Rohbock and longtime teammate Valerie Fleming finished second at the women's bobsled world championships in Konigssee, Germany, on Saturday, the last major race the 2006 Olympic silver medalists will have together. Both say this season will be their last, that they're unwilling to continue dealing with an array of injuries like they have for the past several seasons.
"As an athlete, you just know when it's time," Rohbock said by telephone from the team hotel after the race. "It's time. I told Valerie, 'I'm surprised we made it here.' My body, it just hurts. And athletes who have been there can understand that."
Their career together ends with more than 20 international medals, including silver at the Turin Games. A mere 0.22 seconds over the four runs Friday and Saturday kept them from going out as world champions, that title going instead to Germany's Cathleen Martini and Romy Logsch.
Maybe fittingly, in their final run Saturday, they were clocked in 51.60 seconds - the fastest time by any sled all day.
"In between runs, it kind of hit me a little more: 'Wow, this really is my last run,'" Fleming said. "I wasn't coming back at all after pulling my hamstring right before the (Olympics) last year. I didn't have anything to prove, but I wanted to go out on a different note, just for myself. Some people can walk away. I didn't want to with that ending to my career. So I came back."
Both say this retirement decision is firm.
That is, unless the lure of the 2014 Sochi Games proves too strong a year or two from now - and they certainly wouldn't be the first sliders to make a retirement temporary, either.
"Today, I can't even think about Sochi," Rohbock said. "The way I felt walking up the stairs after the race, I was like, 'OK, I'm done.' You never know."
Rohbock pulled a hamstring Saturday just before her final run at worlds and already was in line for hip surgery later this year. Fleming has also dealt with hamstring issues, including one that kept her out of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
They plan to remain involved with the sport, possibly in coaching. Their departure as athletes creates some openings in the U.S. bobsled roster. Erin Pac, who drove to a bronze medal at the Vancouver Games, retired unexpectedly before this season, and now Rohbock is gone.
The other U.S. sleds have some work to do before reaching the truly elite level on the international stage. Rookie driver Elana Meyers paired with Jamie Greubel to finish ninth at worlds, one spot ahead of Olympian Bree Schaaf and Emily Azevedo.
"Shauna and Val were the reason I decided to become a driver," Pac told the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. "I wanted to be as successful in the sport as they were. Shauna kept me on my toes and inspired me to want to learn more."
Rohbock said she had no regrets in finishing second - especially considering German sleds always have huge home-ice advantages on German tracks.
"We made a good run," Rohbock said. "Cathleen was a little too good. But I'm excited and happy with our finish."