FILE UNDER -- Nordic

Team Canada couple Renner, Grandi expecting first child

Team Canada couple Renner, Grandi expecting first child{mosimage}Canada’s Sara Renner, who won a silver medal in the cross-country team sprint event at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, and her husband, alpine star Thomas Grandi, are expecting their first child, Cross Country Canada reported Monday.

Renner, 30, is due in February, and will take next season off. Renner does plan to return to the race course and eventually compete in the 2010 Olympics in her home country.

“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.”

Renner, a 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. Renner got even better in ’05-06, finishing on the World Cup podium five times in addition to earning the Olympic medal.

The 33-year-old Grandi announced earlier this summer that he would return to the Canadian National Team for the 2006-07 season. A four-time Olympian, Grandi is currently preparing for the season-opening event in late October in Sölden, Austria.

Parent-athletes are relatively common 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, 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,” Renner said. “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.”

With the retirement of two-time Olympic medalist Beckie Scott this spring, Renner will be counted on to carry the torch for a young group of athletes who have progressed rapidly on the World Cup. The senior squad combined to win a total of 16 World Cup and two Olympic medals last season — the most successful in history. The medal count included first-time trips to the World Cup podium for Renner, Chandra Crawford and Devon Kershaw.

“I still have the fire in my belly to compete, to improve in all disciplines of our sport, and I look forward to the opportunity to lead our team along the way,” Renner said. “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.”

— Cross Country Canada

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