Kaitlyn Farrington’s life did a complete 180 in such a short time a few months ago that it was almost staggering to watch.
The 25-year old snowboarder, fresh off an Olympic gold medal run in the halfpipe at Sochi, was forced to retire at the height of her powers because of a congenital spinal condition known as cervical stenosis. Doctors told her she could still snowboard; she was simply unable to leave the ground at the risk of severe injury.
Despite her retirement, Farrington is attending this year’s Winter X Games in Aspen. The transition from competitor to fan has been an interesting experience, she says.
“I think it’s getting me into a lot more trouble because I’ve been partying a lot harder,” Farrington said with a laugh. “So, it’s been really fun, there’s been a lot of support from everyone here so that’s been really nice and it’s just been fun to be around everybody and have it all be out in the open.”
Farrington is not at these Games just to watch and have fun, however. On Saturday night, she presented the medals to the top three finishers at the woman’s halfpipe in an emotional moment for everyone.
“I’m just really excited to be a part of it,” Farrington said in the afternoon before the event. “I feel like it’s going to be hard for me to sit there and watch all the girls and be like, ‘Man I wish I was in the pipe,’ but it’s gonna be cool to hand those women the medals and I’m excited to do that.”
Although Farrington has a special task at this particular competition, she says that she will likely be attending many of the events on the snowboarding circuit in the near future, as a way to stay involved with the sport she still loves.
“I think I’ll be around at most of the events still, maybe trying to get into a little TV personality,” said the Idaho native, who had just had some airtime on ESPN before talking with me. “I want to stay a part of the community, I mean, I’ve been competing since I was 14, so it’s hard to be like, ‘Alright, you gotta completely change your life.’ So I definitely still want to be a part because it’s my family pretty much.”
Even though she’s retired from active competition, the 2-time Winter X Games medalist still snowboards for enjoyment, even occasionally defying doctors’ orders to remain on the ground. She says the change has been difficult, but she enjoys boarding simply for pleasure.
“It’s really hard because it’s like taking snowboarding on totally different from what I have been, but it’s kinda cool because it’s me getting back to the basics of snowboarding, just going down the mountains and turning and that’s why I started snowboarding in the first place,” she said.
With that kind of attitude, it’s clear that Farrington will still be a fixture in the sport despite not being a dominant competitor anymore. With the positive outlook she has, however, it is not difficult to envision her being just as successful after her brief career as she was during it.
Photo Credit: Getty