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Kucera retires from competitive skiing

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According to the Canadian Press on Thursday, alpine skiing world champion John Kucera of Calgary has retired at the age of 29. Kucera's claim to fame was winning the men's alpine skiing downhill competition at the 2009 International Ski Federation World Championship in Val D'Isere, France.

Kucera posted a time of 2:07.01. Didier Cuche of Switzerland won the silver medal with a time of 2:07.05. Carlo Janka of Switzerland won the bronze medal with a time of 2:07.18.

Kucera also became the first Canadian man to win a gold medal at a World Championship. Erik Guay of Montreal, Quebec won the gold medal in the men's downhill two years later at the 2011 International Ski Federation World Championship in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

On the women's side, eight Canadian women have won a gold medal at the World Championship in the past. According to www.ski-db.com, Lucile Wheeler of Sainte-Jovite, Quebec was the first Canadian woman to capture gold in 1958 in Bad Gastein, Austria. She was followed by Anne Heggtveit, Nancy Greene, Betsy Clifford, Kathy Kreiner, Gerry Sorensen, Kate Pace and Melanie Turgeon.

Kucera also won three World Cup medals. He won the gold medal in a men's super giant slalom event at Lake Louise, Alberta on November 26, 2006. Kucera also won a bronze medal in a men's super giant slalom event in Gardena, Italy on December 15, 2006 and a silver medal in a men's super giant slalom event in Lake Louise, Alberta on November 30, 2008.

Following his gold medal victory at the 2009 World Championship, Kucera was named the first recipient of the Calgary Examiner Athlete of the Year. Heartbreak would happen to Kucera however in November of 2009. He broke his leg at a World Cup super giant slalom competition at Lake Louise and was unable to compete at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Kucera's best Olympic result was a 17th in the men's combined event at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin.

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