Skeleton athlete Zach Lund is taking a break from the sport but still hopes to compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, USA Bobsled and Skeleton announced Friday.
"I still hope to compete in the next Games," Lund said in a statement. "If I'm going to have any chance of doing that I need a break both mentally and physically. Once I started sliding this season, I realized I needed to take at least a year off."
Lund cited spending more time with his wife and daughter and a lack of passion as his reasons for taking the leave of absence.
"Maybe I'll get a second wind, maybe I won't," Lund said. "I see guys like Matt Antoine and John Daly who are hungry and passionate, and they really want it. Here I am on the opposite side of the spectrum, and that's not a good situation. I thought that the pressure would be off my shoulders this season and I could relax and enjoy sliding again, but I struggled doing that."
Lund made his first Olympic appearance in Vancouver, finishing in fifth place overall in the skeleton race.
In 2002, he suffered a debilitating car accident after being rear-ended and was removed from the Olympics.
In 2006, Lund was the top-ranked skeleton athlete in the world. He was notified an hour before the opening ceremonies that he was removed from the U.S. Olympic team for testing positive for Propecia, the hair restoration drug. The International Olympic Committee removed Propecia from the banned substance list in 2007.
"Sometimes I think about what I missed out on in 2006, and as much as I've been able to cope with it, it still gets me deep down inside," Lund said. "It took the passion and drive out of me and was a huge blow to my career."