Tony Benshoof retires from U.S. team

Updated: October 11, 2011, 4:29 PM ET
Associated Press

After 22 years on the U.S. national luge team and three trips to the Olympics, Tony Benshoof has decided to retire from competitive sliding.

USA Luge announced Benshoof's decision Tuesday.

"It was a great run and I'm going to miss the team and the organization," Benshoof said. "Hopefully, I can stay involved in one capacity or another."

Benshoof is the most decorated men's slider in USA Luge history with 37 international medals, and he won the U.S. national singles championship seven times -- tying him with Cameron Myler and Frank Masley for the all-time total. He was fourth at the 2006 Turin Olympics, missing a medal there by less than one-fifth of a second. He has not raced internationally since the 2010 Vancouver Games, where he was eighth.

"We want to thank him for a stellar career and great memories, and wish him well wherever life takes him," USA Luge CEO Ron Rossi said. "We also hope he stays close to the sport so he can share the knowledge and experience he has gleaned over the years with our younger athletes."

Benshoof had back problems for years and had a pair of surgeries about three months apart in 2009 and 2010 to repair ruptured and torn disks. He said last year that the potential for him to get back on his sled "all hinges on my back."

And as recently as last week, some members of the U.S. national team said they held out hope that Benshoof would be able to compete this season.

"We all know that Father Time lurks closely around the corner for an elite athlete, but it is still always a sad day when a sport sees the retirement of one of its top athletes," Rossi said.

Benshoof stayed home last season to be with his ailing mother, who died this year after a long fight with cancer.

USA Luge is scheduled to begin on-ice training for the upcoming season on Thursday in Lake Placid, N.Y., where the organization is headquartered. Training sessions Monday and Tuesday were postponed because of unseasonably warm conditions in upstate New York.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press