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LaRoche retires from competitive skating

2002 U.S. junior champion happy with career after SP at 2009 U.S. Champs

Nicholas LaRoche at the 2007 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships. He placed 11th in the senior men's group.
Nicholas LaRoche at the 2007 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships. He placed 11th in the senior men's group. (Paul Harvath)

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(04/13/2009) - Four-time national medalist, 2002 U.S. junior champion and world junior team member Nicholas LaRoche has announced his retirement from competitive skating. After not making the cut in 2008 for the U.S. Championships -- for the first time in 10 years -- he took on a whole new approach when returning to the ice for his last competitive season in 2009. He wrote about his decision to stop skating after the short program at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Going into this U.S. Championships was a very different approach than any other U.S. Championships I have competed in. Last season, I ended up fifth at the Pacific Coast Sectionals and didn't qualify for the 2008 Championships in St. Paul, being the first time since 1997. I had many thoughts of not wanting to follow along the path of competitive skating and stick to coaching full-time.

My life took a drastic turn with the murder-suicide of my parents in July 2008, and it made me look at life in a whole different perspective. I felt like everyone was just waiting for me to give up and walk away from skating due to the tragedy and hardships I had encountered. Instead of giving in, I for once in my career took to a competitive season with nothing but love for the sport and enjoyment of what I was working towards.

As many athletes set out to make a top-three finish at the U.S. Championships, being named to world or Olympic teams was the furthest thought in my brain. I wanted nothing but to prove how strong I was and how someone could just enjoy and love the sport of figure skating for what it is. My goal was to be satisfied, leaving the ice with no regrets and loving every minute of my performances.

I did Pacific Coast Sectionals, where I skated one of the best free skates of my career, and then an excellent short program in Cleveland. I put out two of the best programs in one of the most difficult years that anyone could encounter, and that was beyond satisfying for me. I decided to withdraw from the free program at the U.S. Championships because it wasn't about numbers or placement. It was about being satisfied. And I was more than satisfied; I was ecstatic. I was not only blessed with such great success in the sport, but also such great guidance on so many levels and a family that stuck by me no matter what. I wanted to extend my thanks to every coach, sponsor and fan that supported my skating throughout my career.

Having had many successes in the sport, claiming international medals, regional, sectional and national titles, along with being named to a world junior team, only name some of the wonderful moments I achieved in skating. I am now coaching full-time at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Calif., and have also started my own non-profit organization called the "U.S. Athletic Foundation." The Foundation is geared to help athletes pursue their dreams, while we offer assistance with their financial needs and maximize their training. I look forward to exploring my other routes in skating with the wonderful lessons I've learned over the past 16 years.