Twice in his career, frustrated by his results and the lack of funding and support, Canmores Thomas Grandi threatened to quit ski racing for good.
He stayed on at the insistence of his coaches who knew talent when they saw it. Now, just days before Christmas, Grandi has accomplished the impossible in winning back to back World Cup victories in the giant slalom.
Historically, its the first time since Steve Podborski in 1981 that a Canadian has won back-to-back gold medals. Its also the first time that any Canadian has consecutive giant slalom medals and the last time a Canadian won a GS medal was Kathy Kreiner in 1974, two years after Grandi was born.
Personally, the wins represented Grandis first and second World Cup gold medals in just 48 hours, and the high points of a career that goes back 13 years.
Grandi has been close to victory several times, and has consistently ranked among the top skiers in the world for the past few years. Still, he had problems putting two perfect runs together, and perfect is what you have to be on todays World Cup circuit.
The second win took place on Tuesday, Dec. 21 on a technical course in Flachau, Austria. Grandi, who is turning 32 on Dec. 27, had a safe first run and turned up his intensity for his second lap of the course.
"After Alta Badia, I was so happy," Grandi told reporters, referring to his first win two days earlier. "Everything that has happened is overwhelming.
"I was mentally tired when I came here, it was a challenge to focus on this race after earning my first victory. Today was the icing on the cake. I feel great.
"I was confident after the first leg, but it takes two runs to make a race. The piste was icy and tough.
"The ice makes me a little nervous, youre never quite sure if your skis are going to hold."
Grandi was joined on the podium by Dider Cuche of Switzerland and American skier Bode Miller, who is also having a breakthrough season.
In his first victory at Alta Badia, Grandi said the win had special meaning for him.
The Canmore resident, who was born in a town near the Alta Badia ski hill, emigrated from Italy with his family when he was just two years old. He still has family in Italy and they helped him celebrate Sunday.
"I thought it was my destiny to win here," said Grandi. "To do this here, on this course, in front of this crowd it is a day I will never forget in my life," said the 31-year-old veteran of his race.
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