The last time we saw Manuel Osborne-Paradis on a World Cup course, he was skidding across the snow, on his back, into protective netting before being airlifted away.
When the Whistler Mountain Ski Club product crashed in the men’s downhill at Chamonix, France, in January 2011 and suffered a broken left fibula and torn ACL, it was the first major injury of his skiing career.
But as the 28-year-old prepares to return to the World Cup circuit this weekend at Lake Louise, Osborne-Paradis isn’t thinking back on his last race.
“I think I’ve moved past it,” he said Monday (Nov. 19) from Calgary. “You know, I’ve had way worse crashes than that. It just happened to be an injury-stricken crash. It’s just one of those things that I knew it was bound to happen, and it’s kind of just a relief that it’s finally happened and I can move on.
“It’s just an injury — you get better and you play on.”
A non-skiing injury from two summers ago, when Osborne-Paradis fell off and was dragged behind a bus, also added to his recovery time. But now back at 100 per cent health, Osborne-Paradis said it’s been “awesome” re-joining teammates on snow in preseason training. He got a chance to get his bearings and calm some nerves during a FIS race at Colorado’s Copper Mountain on Friday (Nov. 16), and said he’s encouraged by the way he’s been performing.
“I feel like I’m skiing well and skiing solid, so now, at Lake Louise, it’s just (a matter of) getting back on to these World Cup courses and seeing what I can do,” he said.
During a career in which he has racked up three World Cup wins and nine podium finishes, some of Osborne-Paradis’s most memorable moments have come at Lake Louise. He was a super-G winner there in 2009 and earned his first top-three finish six years ago in Alberta. And, it’s the perfect place for a racer returning to the World Cup circuit, with one of the tour’s less demanding courses.
“Hands down, Lake Louise is the best comeback-from-injury race,” he said. “The jumps are a little mellower so it’s good to push the limit, see what you can do and kind of get out of your comfort zone at Lake Louise.”
After missing three years to injury, former world champion John Kucera also returns to the Canadian men’s speed team for Lake Louise, which hosts the downhill Saturday (Nov. 24) and the super-G on Sunday. Whistler’s Conrad and Morgan Pridy will also be among the nine Canadians racing Saturday, as will veterans Erik Guay and Jan Hudec.
Osborne-Paradis will have to start closer to the back of the field, and skiing into the top 30 will be the North Vancouver native’s goal.
“I’ll be satisfied with World Cup points at Lake Louise,” he said. “If I had a top 15, I’d be ecstatic.”
Dixon out after crash
Robbie Dixon is facing a long recovery period for a badly broken leg, which he suffered during a Colorado training race last Thursday (Nov. 15).
The Whistler skier caught an edge after landing a jump, and sustained a tib-fib fracture from the ensuing crash. It’s the latest bit of bad luck when it comes to Dixon’s health, as the 27-year-old has already missed significant time with concussion problems over the past few seasons.
“It’s a hard one to swallow given how the last couple years have gone,” he said in a Thursday statement.
“I caught an edge and one thing led to another. I’m going to stay positive. I’m fortunate to have some pretty amazing teammates who I can call my friends. They’re supporting me and I know they’ve got my back.”
After missing most of the 2010-11 season with concussion problems, Dixon showed a return to form when he secured a career-best, fourth-place finish at Beaver Creek, Colo., early last winter. However, he struck his head on a GS gate mid-season and had to miss several weeks when symptoms reappeared. Dixon did return to post a top-20 finish at Kvitfjell, Norway, late in the year and would have been in the start gate at Lake Louise Saturday.