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For more than two years skier Allison Forsyth willed her body to ignore the searing pain burning in her left knee.

Two weeks ago, during a visit to the gym, her body finally surrendered. It was then Forsyth knew the time had come to give up on her dream of returning to ski racing.

"I put some weight on the bar and tried to do a squat," Forsyth said Wednesday after announcing her retirement from the Canadian alpine ski team. "I winced in pain. It was literally muscle shut down. My body was going to have nothing of it.

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"I've always been fighting an uphill battle. That's when it hit me it was a losing battle. It was just time."

Forsyth, 29, won five World Cup giant slalom medals during her career and a bronze at the 2003 world alpine championships. She has been battling to return since shredding her knee while training for the downhill at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Quitting is an alien thought to Forsyth. It would be like sleeping in on a training day or leaving practice early. But no matter how hard she tried, the Nanaimo, B.C., native could no longer escape the reality that her career was over.

Forsyth has no cartilage remaining in her femur. All that is left is bone rubbing on bone.

"I have pain now to the point where I struggle to ride a bike," she said in a telephone interview from Calgary. "You know the forces involved with ski racing. There was no way it was going to happen.

"We did everything we could. I'll always walk away proud of the effort I put in trying to get back."

One regret Forsyth has is missing the chance to ski at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

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"I'm disappointed and saddened," she said. "I really hoped to be a competitor in Vancouver in 2010. Once the Olympics come around I'll have a whole new wave of sadness.

"However I am relieved. It's been such a battle and a struggle, particularly in the last five months. In a way I am relieved it's over and I can rest my knee and not push it beyond places where it doesn't really want to go."

Ken Read, Alpine Canada's chief executive officer, said Forsyth won medals at a time when the Canadian ski team badly needed results.

"Her performance at the 2003 (world championships) was especially important because it came at a critical time in which Alpine Canada was looking to re-establish its credibility," Read said in a release. "Allison was always focused on achieving excellence and she proved that she had what it takes."

Forsyth tore ligaments in her left knee and suffered extensive bruising to her tibia and femur when she crashed at the Olympics. She required surgery and missed the following 2006-07 World Cup season.

She was back on the slopes for off-season training last summer, but re-injured her knee before the first World Cup race of the season. She required more surgery and was unable to compete in 2007-08.

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Never the biggest woman on the hill, Forsyth was known for her determination and work ethic. She took pride in being the first person on the slopes for practice and the last to leave.

"I loved the reputation I had for being the hardest worker in dryland (training), the hardest worker on the hill," she said.

Between 1999 and 2005 Forsyth won four silver and one bronze medal in World Cup giant slalom races. She was most proud of her giant slalom bronze at the world championships.

"I went into that event skiing excruciatingly bad, to the point I didn't even know if I was going to compete," said Forsyth. "I mentally pulled a 180 and managed to convince myself I was the best in the world. It proved my mental capacity in the sport for the first time."

Forsyth also was a technical skier at a time when much of the team's focus was on downhill results.

"It was hard," she said. "I think there was a portion of time when we weren't financially and respectfully treated as well as the downhillers.

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"I managed to get the results I did when I had virtually no team around me to support me."

With one chapter written in her life Forsyth is ready to turn the page. She has been presented with some business opportunities and would like to move into broadcasting.

She also wants to start a family.

"I'm not too much of a spring chicken any more," she laughed.

Maybe Forsyth's biggest disappointment is not being able to take her fight against breast cancer to the slopes. She had planned to wear a pink ski helmet during the season to raise awareness of inflammatory breast cancer, the disease that claimed her mother Marion.

Forsyth is sure her mother would support her decision.

"I know my mom is watching over me," said. "I think she just didn't want me to be in pain any more."

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