May 2, 2006
PARK CITY, Utah (USST Press Release)—Two-time Olympian and former World Championships medalist Jonna Mendes (South Lake Tahoe, CA) has announced her retirement after 10 years on the U.S. Ski Team.
Among Mendes' career accomplishments, she earned the bronze medal in super G at the 2003 World Championships, four U.S. titles (two in downhill, two in giant slalom) and two Junior World Championships silver medals in downhill.
"I'll miss everybody. The friendships are such a great part of this, but after 10 years, I feel it's time to move on, Mendes said Tuesday. "I'm looking into taking some college courses and maybe doing some volunteer work or even working for a nonprofit organization. I've had some great experiences with the (U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team) Foundation, and that's really opened my eyes to nonprofits.
"I'm still passionate about skiing but I'd like to immerse myself in something new now and explore different opportunities. I'm excited about what's next, she said. Mendes possibly will coach at a Ski Team development camp in June; "I want to give back and I'm looking at staying involved in skiing at some level, and this is a terrific opportunity, she said.
"It's always tough when an athlete retires, but especially when it's someone like Jonna. She had a very good career - that medal at Worlds in St. Moritz was tremendous - and produced some excellent results, said Women's Head Coach Patrick Riml. "But beyond that, she was always fun to be with - she's not shy, for sure, and she was a great teammate, particularly in helping the younger girls coming up because she has such an easy way with people. She'll be a great ambassador for skiing and we certainly wish her all the best. [pagebreak]Mendes began skiing at 4 when her family moved to Tahoe. By 13 she was winning regional titles and by 18, Mendes was competing on the World Cup circuit and heading to her first Olympics. During her career she posted 10 top-10 finishes on the World Cup and had four top-20s in five Olympics races and eight top-20s at the four Worlds where she raced.
Of all the stops in her skiing career, Mendes said she favors the race hill at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. It makes sense considering the string of successful breakthroughs she accomplished at Lake Louise: Mendes scored her first World Cup top-30 there before the 1998 Olympics, bagged her first top-20 there early in the 2000 season, broke into the World Cup top-10 during the downhill at Lake Louise in 2000 and 2001 and, after breaking her foot at the end of '01, came back to the World Cup with a top-10 in the first super G of the 2002 season.
In fact, it was at Lake Louise that Mendes first showed her aptitude for speed: Eighteen years old and ticketed for NorAm action, Mendes told then-Coach Jim Tracy she wanted to go to Europe and race on the World Cup. "Show me something in tomorrow's race (at Lake Louise), he told her. Mendes earned her first World Cup points, finishing 26th in a super G and won two NorAm SGs the next day. She got the nod for Europe and two months later, she was in her first Olympics.