Retirement didn’t last long for Canmore’s Thomas Grandi, who announced his return to the national team last week after just one year in retirement,
“The pull of the Olympics has simply proven to be too much for me,” said Grandi, a veteran skier known as much for his abilities as his sense of humour. He was one skier that got better as he got older, with nine career World Cup podiums in slalom and super G, and 11 national titles at the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships.
The news couldn’t come at a better time for Alpine Canada, which had its best ever season in 2006-2007, but slipped slightly this past season — mostly as a result of injuries to members of the technical team. Grandi adds depth and consistency to the technical team, as well as experience — on a team where the average age is probably younger than 25 Grandi’s 35 years pull a lot of weight.
“My return to ski racing as Canada hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics is an opportunity that can never come again, especially with my wife (Sara Renner) seeking to compete in cross-country,” said Grandi.
Grandi was never far away from racing after retiring. In addition to being a dad to his one-year-old daughter, Grandi took over the position of president of the Alberta Alpine Ski Association. Some of his accomplishments there include new fundraising programs, and new sponsors for youth programs. He also helped to create the Alberta Alpine Legends Club to fund development camps for skiers aged 11 to 16, while moving the head office from Calgary to Canmore.
Ken Read, CEO of Alpine Canada, welcomed Grandi back.
“Thomas’s determination to be the best, along with the important contributions from Own the Podium 2010 and all of our valued partners, has made this possible,” he said. “The return of the best male technical skier in Canadian history lifts the quality of the program at a critical time with the 2010 Olympic Winter Games fast approaching.”
Even though he didn’t race this past winter, Grandi is officially ranked 27 th in the world in slalom coming into the season and won’t have to start at the back of the field with other newcomers to the sport.
For 2010, Canada will be able to field a maximum of 22 athletes in alpine skiing events, with a maximum of 14 males or females. As the host nation Canada is eligible to field at least one athlete in every event, with a maximum of four athletes in any discipline.
To take part in 2010, Grandi will have until December of 2009 — all of the upcoming season, and part of the next — to earn a spot on the Olympic team.