The Italian Almanac

Kristian Ghedina

Italian Sport - April 27

Italian downhill skier Kristian Ghedina hung up his skis on Wednesday after 13 wins in his 15 years at the pinnacle of his sport. "I was full of doubts because I wasn't too bad last year," said the 36-year-old, a crowd favourite who returned to form last season and narrowly missed the podium on a couple of occasions. "But time waits for no man and I have to say I have my fair share of aches and pains, especially a nagging back problem."

Despite his age, in recent years the freewheeling Italian twice thrilled the fans at Kitzbuehel in Austria, cradle of downhill skiing, by doing the flying splits on the legendary Streif's last breakneck jump. He is the only skier ever to perform a spread eagle on the famous course - to gasps of "Total verrueckt" ("Completely mad") from the Kitzbuehel faithful.

The evergreen daredevil from the famed Dolomites resort of Cortina di Ampezzo is the only Italian to have won at Kitzbuehel, in 1998. In his career, Ghedina picked up two World Championship silver medals, one in the downhill and one in the combined event, as well as a downhill bronze. Ghedina also holds the record of four wins on Val Gardena's famous Saslong run - an achievement he shares with Austrian legend Franz Klammer.