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Two-time Canadian figure skating champion Cynthia Phaneuf retires

Cynthia Phaneuf from Brossard, Que. sports a smile during a practice session at the Canadian figure skating championships in Moncton, N.B. on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Two-time Canadian figure skating champion Cynthia Phaneuf is stepping away from the ice.

The 24-year-old from Sorel-Tracy, Que. announced her retirement on Wednesday, which came after a roller-coaster 2011-12 season nagged by lingering back pain and a coaching change.

Phaneuf, the Canadian champion in 2004 and 2011, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her back over the summer.

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"People think it was because of my injury, but actually it's not," she said as friends, family and Skate Canada officials gathered at a riverside restaurant for her announcement. "It's more about where I am in my life now.

"I'm reaching for something new in my life. I think I achieved some things in skating. I've been Canadian champion a second time, which I wanted. I've been to the Olympics."

The diagnosis was more bad news for the skater who left her longtime coaches Annie Barabe and Sophie Richard last November and moved to Toronto to train with Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson. The change was an effort to rediscover the form that propelled her to a fourth-place finish at the 2010 world championships.

But Phaneuf failed to make the 2012 world team after finishing second at the Canadian championships.

Phaneuf was 12th at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

She plans to move to Philadelphia, where her boyfriend Max Talbot plays hockey for the Flyers, to work at former Canadian skater Isabelle Brasseur's figure skating school.

"She offered the job so it was amazing for me to have that opportunity," she said. "I'm looking forward to living in Philly.

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"I always want to be part of skating. It's been part of my life for 20 years. But I want to try some new stuff."

She has offers to join some pro tours but hasn't decided whether to accept.

"I'd have to start training at some point," she said. "I went on the ice last week and it was great. Just feeling the ice was amazing."

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