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Whistler’s Julia Murray announces retirement from ski-cross

Competition proves too risky for damaged knee



Whistler's Julia Murray, ski cross star, has decided to hang up her skis.

The 23-year-old made the announcement Friday, June 2 citing concerns over further injury to her knee as the main reason.

"I realize there is a lot more to life that involves my knee," she said in an Alpine Canada press release.

" I want to use it to its full potential for as long as possible. At this point, longevity outweighs the possibility of one or two years of pounding on it in competition."

Murray, who realized her dream of competing in her hometown Olympics in 2010 and went on to win a silver medal at the 2011 world championships, has been battling her way back from a long-term knee injury.

The daughter of late ski racing legend Dave Murray, is also about to wrap up a diploma in communications and hopes to pursue a career in that field.

But she admits she will miss the competition: "The Olympics were a once in a lifetime experience," said Murray, who competed in a knee brace after injuring her knee a month before the Games.

"That feeling I had at the top of the course was very special. It was an indescribable moment I will remember for my whole life.

Murray grew up skiing on the slopes at Whistler and dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. Dave Murray, a member of the Crazy Canucks, claimed three World Cup podiums during a superb career that also saw him finish 10th in downhill at the Lake Placid, USA, Olympics in 1980. He died in 1990 following a battle with skin cancer and the downhill run at Whistler was named in his honour.

"In Grade 5 we had to create a project describing our dreams. I drew a picture of myself racing down an Olympic course. My dream was to ski down my dad's run in the Olympics", said Murray, whose mom Stephanie Sloan is a former freestyle skiing world champion. "That was before I even knew it was a possibility that Whistler would have the Olympics. Later, when I was 13, I spoke in front of the International Olympic Committee and the Prime Minister to help win the bid. I spoke as a kid with a dream."

Murray was third overall in the World Cup rankings before injuring herself at Lake Placid in the 2009-10 season

"...I had never injured myself badly before, but here I was exactly a month before the Olympics and I had blown my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament) and I had a bone bruise and bad meniscus issues," she said recalling the accident.

It looked like Murray's Olympic dream was over before it had begun, but after a scope to clean up the meniscus - followed by a visit to Whistler to carry the torch up the mountain the day after - and two weeks of intense physio and rehab, she was fitted with a knee brace and made the difficult decision to compete.

"The Olympics was one of the reasons why I was doing ski cross so I couldn't just give up," Murray said. "I had lots of painkillers and had my knee drained a few times. It was worth it - it was a once in a lifetime experience. No pain, no gain!"

Murray finished 12th as ski cross made its debut at the Winter Olympic Games.

Eric Archer, head coach of the Canadian team, paid tribute to Murray's courage and determination. "She would have done anything she could to be in that race," Archer said. "It was a tough decision because we had other girls who could have competed but as a team we felt she had earned the right to be able to race there. She skied really well."

One week after her race, Murray underwent knee reconstruction surgery and was back in time for the start of the 2010-11 season, which was progressing well until she had a nasty fall during X Games in Aspen, USA. She kept skiing and competing taking silver in the World Championship.

But when she came home from competition MRI results from the injury suffered at X Games revealed she had blown her ACL again, and suffered serious cartilage damage - meaning she won her world championship silver medal while skiing on a badly damaged knee. She went for surgery the following week -another full reconstruction of the ACL

Murray sat out the entire 2011-12 ski season and attended Capilano University. But not surprisingly she won't be sitting around: "Mountain bike season is starting up and I will free ski a lot next winter and possibly do some coaching. We are excited about all the different directions life could take us."

While hoping to pursue a new career in communications Murray says she'll never forget her time as a member of the Canadian ski cross team.

"I've met so many amazing people on the circuit and through my supportive sponsors. I've learned valuable lessons from this chapter of my life, which helped shape me into the person I am today," she said.

"Our team is a successful family that I am so privileged to have been a part of."