Olympic champ Farrington retires due to spine condition

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Olympic champ Farrington retires due to spine condition
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Snowboard Ladies' Halfpipe on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Medals Plaza on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12: Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States competes in the Snowboard Women's Halfpipe Semifinals on day five of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 17: Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington visits the SiriusXM Studios on September 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 19: (L-R) Olympic speed skater Travis Jayner, Olympic skier Devin Logan and Olympic snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington bite their metals as they arrive at the grand opening of Tao Beach season at the Tao Beach at The Venetian Las Vegas on April 19, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 02: Kaitlyn Farrington walks the red carpet during the U.S. Olympic Committee's Best of U.S. Awards at Warner Theatre on April 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for the USOC)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Olympians Kaitlyn Farrington (L) and Maddie Bowman attend the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 19: U.S. Women's Snowboarding Halfpipe gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington talks with Dave about her win in Sochi, on the Late Show with David Letterman Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 21: Kaitlyn Farrington at the USOC's Team USA Club event to celebrate the 2014 Winter Olympic Games at ROOF on TheWit on February 20, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for the USOC)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Kaitlyn Farrington is seen on February 19, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 21: Kaitlyn Farrington at the USOC's Team USA Club event to celebrate the 2014 Winter Olympic Games at ROOF on TheWit on February 20, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for the USOC)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Kaitlyn Farrington, Torah Bright, Kelly Clark from the 2014 Olympics in Socci -- (Photo by: Joe Scarnici/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Gold Medallist,US Kaitlyn Farrington celebrates at the Women's Snowboard Halfpipe Flower Ceremony at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: U.S. Olympian Kaitlyn Farrington visits the USA House in the Olympic Village on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for USOC)
Gold Medallist, US Kaitlyn Farrington celebrates at the end of the Women's Snowboard Halfpipe Final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 12, 2014.. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12: Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States celebrates in the Snowboard Women's Halfpipe Semifinals on day five of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
BRECKENRIDGE, CO - JANUARY 08: Kaitlyn Farrington takes her first run in the ladies' snowboard halfpipe qualifications for the US Snowboarding Grand Prix on January 8, 2014 in Breckenridge, Colorado. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - OCTOBER 02: Snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington poses for a portrait during the USOC Media Summit ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on October 2, 2013 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
US Kaitlyn Farrington competes at the Snowboard World Cup Ladies Semi-final Halfpipe Test Event at the Snowboard and Freestyle Center in Rosa Khutor near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on February 14, 2013. AFP PHOTO / NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA (Photo credit should read NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 26: Snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington poses for a portrait during the USOC Portrait Shoot on April 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Kaitlyn Farrington, the American snowboarder who pulled off one of the biggest surprises at the Sochi Olympics, is retiring because of a degenerative spine condition.

The 25-year-old raised in Bellevue, Idaho, won the gold medal on the halfpipe last year, defeating previous champions Torah Bright and Kelly Clark.

Farrington, whose family sold livestock from their ranch to bankroll her career, fell while riding last October and went numb.

An MRI revealed she had congenital cervical stenosis, a narrowing of the spine that would leave her susceptible to paralysis if she keeps competing in snowboarding.

"It's taken me these few months to come to terms with my diagnosis and the fact that I must retire from competitive halfpipe snowboarding," Farrington said on Instagram.

Farrington said she wants to ride the snowboard, but her days of soaring over the halfpipe are over.

"I can walk. I can still snowboard," she said in an interview with ESPN. "I just have to keep my feet on the ground. I still want to be a professional snowboarder, I just have to figure out what that means."

She said the fall that led to her diagnosis came on a relatively routine jump, but she felt numbness and tingling from her neck down, and it lasted more than two minutes.

The MRI showed narrowing of the spine, a herniated disc and a kink in her spinal cord that made competitive snowboarding too risky.

The discovery ended any chance Farrington will have of an Olympic repeat. She called the timing "crazy."

"I had the highest high of my life to now this complete life-changer," she told ESPN. "The next quarter of my life is going to be extremely different from the first. I have to figure out how to make it just as great."

Also on AOL:

Kaitlyn Farrington on Winning Gold Her Own Way


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