Manuel Osborne-Paradis got the result he was looking for when returning to the World Cup circuit on Saturday (Nov. 24), finishing in the points in the men’s downhill at Lake Louise.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club product started all the way back in 44th but managed a 22nd-place finish in his first World Cup race since January 2011.
“It’s nice to know that you can still be competitive. With training, you never really know,” said Osborne-Paradis, one of three Canadians in the top 30 for the speed season premiere.
“Catching an edge in the middle, I lost quite a bit of speed but I think, all in all, the skiing is where it needs to be to be competitive. I’ve just got to get this start number back down where the good guys are and once that happens I’ll be race-ready anyways.”
Erik Guay placed sixth, giving the reigning world downhill champ the top Canadian finish. Jan Hudec placed 17th on Saturday.
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal posted a winning time of one minute, 48.31 seconds, which was 0.64 seconds ahead of runner-up Max Franz of Austria. Fellow Austrian Klaus Kroell tied with American Marco Sullivan for the bronze. Svindal also won Sunday’s (Nov. 25) super-G to take an early lead in the overall standings.
Whistler’s Conrad Pridy came away from a crash in Saturday’s downhill unharmed, landing in the protective netting after he lost a ski mid-race. In an email, Pridy said there was a “big hole” right before the jump at the course’s Coaches Corner that popped his ski off.
“Usually, it’s not a big deal, but I guess I hit it on an unlucky angle and my outside ski blew off,” he said. “I tried to save it on one ski but pretty much fell over right away and hit the fences. Just bruises though, nothing serious. Can’t say the same about the fence.”
Other Canadians finishing on Saturday included John Kucera — who was 36th in his first race in three years — Benjamin Thomsen and Jeffrey Frisch, who were inside the top 50, but well back. Whistler’s Morgan Pridy was being considered to race the downhill but Frisch was ultimately chosen for Canada’s last spot in the field based on training results.
Osborne-Paradis was not selected by Canadian coaches to race the super-G and voiced his displeasure with the decision via his Twitter account.
“Too bad there’s not enough belief on this team to have me race tomorrow,” Osborne-Paradis said in a Saturday tweet. Guay, Kucera and Hudec all finished in the top 20 on Sunday while Dustin Cook was also in the points.
Both Osborne-Paradis and Conrad Pridy are back in action Friday (Nov. 30) for the World Cup downhill at Beaver Creek, Colo. The first training runs went Tuesday (Nov. 27), with both finishing outside the top 50.
However, Osborne-Paradis seemed encouraged by his skiing on Tuesday.
“My time doesn’t quite reflect my skiing, I felt good on my skis and just need to clean it all up,” he said on his Twitter page.
Meanwhile, Conrad Pridy said he’s been working with the team’s sport psychologist in preparation for Friday’s race and intends to take a different approach to the Colorado course.
“I’m going to think less about technique and line and rely a little more on instinct and feeling the flow of carrying speed. I know maybe that sounds a little spiritual or deep,” he said. “In Lake Louise, I was having trouble linking turns together, but I was making a lot of good turns, so I know my ability to ski isn’t in question. Getting to the finish fast is about having a good, full run, not just going turn-to-turn.”
Morgan Pridy also took Tuesday’s training run, but it’s unclear what his status for the weekend is. Beaver Creek will also host a super-G and giant slalom on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 1 and 2).