Veteran skier Thomas Grandi announces retirement for a second time

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CALGARY - A comeback that fell short of expectations and a wife with better Olympic medal chances than him prompted Thomas Grandi to retire from competitive ski racing for the second time in two years.
The 36-year-old from Canmore, Alta., announced Monday that he will not continue racing to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, just over eight months after saying it was the Olympics that had brought him out of retirement.
In 20 World Cup races this season, Grandi posted a result in just four and finished in the top 10 just once.
''The Olympics were always the real reason for me to come back,'' Grandi said in a conference call.
''I was competitive in my team and there were days I was competitive on the World Cup, but it was that extra five or 10 per cent is the most difficult part to find. I just felt I couldn't get that last five or 10 per cent I needed to get me up that extra half a second that I needed.''
His wife Sara Renner is an Olympic silver medallist in cross-country skiing and the couple have a young daughter Aria.
Grandi seldom saw them during the four months he was racing in Europe this winter. He felt continuing to compete would hurt both their chances for a medal in 2010 as they juggle family life with the travel and time commitments both sports demand.
''I do believe Sara has a better chance,'' Grandi said. ''By me making this choice, she's going to have a lot more help and be better prepared, so I do believe it's going to help her chances.''
''If we would both had a full training regimen over the summer and next fall, I think we both would have suffered and been mediocre, rather than one of us reaching excellence.''
Grandi, a four-time Olympian and two-time World Cup winner in giant slalom, would have been a longshot for an Olympic medal in slalom or giant slalom.
He first retired in March 2007 and, after a season-long hiatus, returned to the World Cup ranked 27th in slalom and outside the top 30 in giant slalom.
A skier's ranking determines where he starts in the race order. Grandi's goal was to accumulate FIS points to improve his ranking.
But he finished this season ranked 44th in slalom and outside the top 50 in GS. He was surpassed on the Canadian men's technical team by other skiers such as Michael Janyk, a World Cup silver medallist in Beaver Creek, Colo.
''I was playing catch-up,'' Grandi said. ''Having had a season off, I was missing training and miles on my skis.
''My rankings had slipped on my year off. I was trying to ski to my level before with a higher start number and at the same time I was chasing FIS races to try and improve my start numbers. It was a difficult situation to step into.''
Grandi won nine career World Cup medals, including back-to-back victories in giant slalom races in Alta Badia, Italy and Flachau, Austria in 2004

Geographic location: CALGARY, Canmore, Vancouver Europe GS Beaver Creek Italy Flachau Austria

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