-Olympic medallist takes year off, commits to leading team towards 2010-
Canmore, Alta.-Olympic silver medallist, Sara Renner, will compete for Canada on the international cross-country ski circuit until the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, but her journey towards Vancouver will have a unique and exciting challenge, Cross Country Canada announced on Monday.
The 30-year-old from Canmore, Alta., and husband Thomas Grandi, a four-time Olympian and leader of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, are expecting their first child in February.
“My focus has quickly turned from Torino to bambino,” said Renner, who married Grandi in the spring of 2003. “It has always been a dream for Thomas and I to start a family together, and we believe given our busy schedules as high-performance athletes, the opportunity for me to take this next year off to have our first child is the best option in order for me to fully prepare to achieve my other dream – to compete for my country in the Olympics at home.”
Parent-athletes are a common occurrence on the World Cup cross-country ski circuit, with many European women raising children while continuing to excel against the best in the world. Renner’s teammate, Milaine Theriault of St. Quentin, N.B., has successfully balanced life as an athlete and mom for the past two years. Theriault returned for her third Olympics in 2006 after taking a year off to give birth to her son.
“I do realize this will be a new challenge, but I’m definitely excited to take on the responsibility,” said Renner. “Being close to Milaine, and the other women on the World Cup circuit who are moms, I have been able to gain some familiarity on how they are able to focus on training, and switch gears to dedicate themselves to their children. I truly believe it will allow me to look at life, and my sport, more in perspective, and I appreciate the support and understanding from my teammates and the staff at Cross Country Canada.”
Monday’s announcement is music to the ears for those involved with the national cross-country ski program. With the retirement of two-time Olympic medallist, Beckie Scott, this spring, Renner will be counted on to carry the torch for a young group of athletes that have been making significant progress, and continue to push harder each day in an effort to win more international medals. The senior squad combined to win a total of 16 World Cup and two Olympic medals during the 2005-06 campaign, marking the most successful season in history. The medal count included first-time trips to the World Cup podium for Renner, Chandra Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., and Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont.
“We are delighted to have Sara continue to be there with us to deliver on her high standards and commitment to excellence over the next four years,” said Al Maddox, executive director, Cross Country Canada. “Sara is a world-class person both on and off the snow. Our team will continue to benefit from her leadership, and from having a proven international performer at their side as we work together to own the podium in 2010. We wish her and Thomas all the best.”
Renner has been a leader on the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team with Scott for nearly a decade. The three-time Olympian established herself as one of the elite talents on the international scene after a breakthrough season in 2004-05, when she sprinted to a bronze-medal finish at the World Championships, making her the first Canadian cross-country skier to win a World Championship medal.
This triumph laid the groundwork for a brilliant 2005-06 season where she made five more trips back to the international podium, including four World Cup medals, and a silver medal in the team sprint event at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games with teammate Scott. The Canadian duo’s Olympic medal will be remembered as the story of the 2006 Games, when the team overcame Renner’s broken pole midway through the race to solidify the second-place finish.
“I still have the fire in my belly to compete, to improving in all disciplines of our sport, and I look forward to the opportunity to lead our team along the way,” said Renner. “The young athletes in our program proved last year they are ready to compete with the world’s best. It’s exciting with Vancouver coming up that we have the opportunity to improve on our successful performance in Torino.”
Source: Cross Country Canada