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Isolde Kostner

Italian News / Sport - January 11

Italian skiing ace Isolde Kostner is quitting the sport on the eve of the Winter Olympics because she is pregnant. Despite a recent drop in form, the two-time downhill and super-G world champ was one of Italy's prime medal hopes for the Games on the slopes north of Turin. Announcing the news, Kostner said "My career ends here. My next great challenge won't be chasing a gold medal but becoming a mother."

"I'm grateful to God for giving me this gift. It was completely unexpected and I know some will think it was bad timing." The head of the Italian Skiing Federation, Gaetano Coppi, said: "Isi has received a great gift, perhaps the greatest a woman can get. But I would have preferred her to get it a bit later." Kostner, 30, has struggled to regain her form after a dramatic fall at Lake Louise at the start of the 2002-2003 season.

Kostner won the downhill silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, where she was a hot favorite. When she won the downhill World Cup in 2001 she became the first Italian to win the women's downhill World Cup for the second straight year. Her first downhill title, in March 2000, made her the first Italian skier of either sex to win a World Cup downhill championship.