Brassard retires from freestyle 

After more than a decade at the top of the sport of freestyle skiing, Jean-Luc Brassard of Grande-Ile, Quebec, announced his retirement on Saturday, Oct. 19.

The 30-year-old was training with Team Canada in the French Alps when he realized that he didn’t have the same passion for the sport. A four-time Olympian, Brassard was sidelined for the bulk of the last two seasons with a severe knee injury that he sustained in the 1999-2000 World Cup finals.

"I’ve won everything you can possibly win on the international scene of moguls skiing, and I’m really happy about the growth of the sport," he told the Canadian Press. "I’m sure a new generation of very talented mogul skiers will show up in the near future, and I’ll be very happy that I was able to contribute to that."

Brassard was the first Canadian male to ever win an Olympic gold medal in a snow sport, winning at Lillehammer, Norway in 1994. In addition, he was crowned world champion in 1993, 1997 and was the overall World Cup points champion in 1994, 1996 and 1997.

Sensing that he would no longer be able to compete at the level he was accustomed after the injury, Brassard decided to call it quits.

"It wasn’t giving me satisfaction just to be part of the race," he said. "I was really aiming to be on the podium in every race, and I discovered it would have been very difficult for me over the next few years."

Last season he made one podium appearance, finishing with a bronze medal in Japan. In 1999, the last year he was healthy, he won four medals – one gold, two silvers and a bronze.

The height of his career was undoubtedly the 1996-1997 season when he earned 13 podiums, including nine gold medals, three silvers and one bronze. Over his career he earned 20 World Cup victories in his nine healthy season, plus 27 silver or bronze medals.

Among the things he said he was looking forward to once retired is having the free time to ski on his own.

The reaction from the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association was quick.

"He won the hearts of Canada in that magical moment in Lillehammer and brought a whole new generation into skiing in this country," said Pat Smith, the chief executive officer for the association.

"We will all miss the joy and excitement of watching him ski, and having him as part of the team."

Smith also said she has no intention of letting Brassard go, and hopes that he will continue to be a part of the team in some capacity.

"It’s now our job to make sure that Jean-Luc continues to have a place in our sport – he has given so much to all of us," she said.

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