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Cuche calls it a career; announces retirement

by Vanessa Pierce, www.fisalpine.com

Kitzbuhel, Austria (Sports Network) - Didier Cuche today announced his retirement from ski racing after the 2012 season. Among a crowd of 200 media professionals, friends, and family, he said the time has come.

"I'm convinced that I have chosen the right moment to retire from active professional sport," he said. "I'm fit and well, I'm still up there with the leaders and I can still win races. I would like to leave the World Cup stage on a high and conclude my career in the spring."

Rather than announce the decision in his home country during the last two weeks of competition, Cuche chose Kitzbuhel. He said: "I celebrated my first victory here in Kitzbuhel and that marked the beginning of my career. There are few races that trigger so many positive emotions for me. And along with Adelboden in 2002, it was always the races in Kitzbuhel. Kitzbuhel remains the downhill mecca in ski racing and yes, perhaps, this explains why I decided this week to announce my retirement in a place that is so important and meaningful to me."

Cuche added that he has been contemplating retirement for some time and said the reason for doing it this season is based on a gut reaction. "My gut reaction was that it is the right moment," he said. "...at the end of the day, it's a gut decision. I've always relied on my gut instincts."

When asked how he feels now, he said, "relieved that I've made this decision and that I've also made it public. It's a kind of release."

From here, the Kitzbuhel defending champion in downhill said he will concentrate on racing his best this weekend. "My focus is now exclusively on the races on Friday and Saturday," he said. "Now that I am freed from other thoughts I can give them full throttle. Before the spring I would like to leave my mark one way or another."

After he is done, the 2011 Downhill World Cup Champion said he already has contracts with Audi and Corum, "two important partners who would like to count on me after my career," he said.

He is also in discussions with HEAD, his equipment supplier, and wants to help young racers in his region develop into quality racers.

01/19 09:59:37 ET