Former world downhill champion Kucera retires

Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:04pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - John Kucera, the first Canadian man to win an alpine ski world championship downhill title, announced his retirement on Thursday following a string of injuries.

The highlight of Kucera's racing career came in 2009 when he was the surprise winner of men's downhill title at the world championships in Val d'Isere, France.

Kucera also claimed three World Cup wins and was the first Canadian skier to stand atop the World Cup podium at Lake Louise with his super-G victory in 2006.

"It was a tough decision to retire from ski racing," Kucera said in a statement. "The past four years haven't exactly gone the way I would have liked."

Kucera's career was interrupted by numerous injuries, the most serious coming in 2009 at Lake Louise when he crashed during the super-G and suffered a devastating compound fracture of his tibia and fibula that prevented him from racing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

The 29-year-old battled his way back into racing form and looked ready to fight for a spot on the Canadian team for the Sochi Olympics, only to suddenly develop an inner ear infection that left him battling vertigo-like symptoms from which he has never able to fully recover.

"I did everything I could to be the best racer I could be and I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish," said Kucera.

"My career has been shorter than I wanted but I took advantage of the time I had. I wasn't the most talented guy but I knew if I outworked everyone else I would give myself a chance."

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)