Manuel Osborne-Paradis had a long wait in the winner’s circle before finding out he’d miss the podium by just one-hundredth of a second.
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club product recorded his best result of the World Cup season when he placed fourth in the men’s downhill at Kvitfjell, Norway, on Saturday (March 2). But he couldn’t have been any closer to earning the 10th top-three finish of his career.
“I’m happy with my result,” said Osborne-Paradis, 29, in a release. “I’ve been fourth before, but never one-hundredth out. It sucks but that’s racing — the clock never lies. Being fourth is just one of those things.
“It was close but really, I’m five-tenths away from first.”
Osborne-Paradis was the first skier out of the start house on Saturday and posted a time of one minute, 29.61 seconds that topped the field for quite a while. It wasn’t until French skier Adrien Theaux, starting 19th, clocked in a half-second ahead to take Manny out of the lead.
Two of the next three skiers down — Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal and Austria’s Klaus Kroell — also set quicker times to push Osborne-Paradis off the podium, with Kroell taking bronze by the narrowest possible margin.
“I desperately wanted a top 10 and when I came through the finish I was pretty happy with the run,” said Osborne-Paradis, who battled through windy conditions Saturday that forced race officials to shorten the course.
“I didn’t necessarily think it was a winning run, but you never know. On a day like today it’s anybody’s race.”
Jan Hudec joined Manny in a podium position after starting ninth and the Canadians sat one-two until Theaux finished. Hudec wound up sixth, while Erik Guay and Ben Thomsen were 26th and 29th, respectively. Whistler’s Pridy brothers also raced on Saturday, with Morgan placing 48th and Conrad finishing 53rd.
Manny has been outstanding at Kvitfjell in his career — Saturday’s result gave him top-five finishes in five of his last six downhill starts at the venue, including a 2009 victory. But his weekend performance was the latest indicator that Osborne-Paradis has progressed back to the level that saw him rack up nine podiums and three World Cup wins before a 2011 crash put him out of action for 22 months.
“I’m extremely happy with Manny’s season,” said Canadian head coach Pete Bosinger. “There are days and races where he would have expected more, just knowing what he’s capable of, but at this point and after almost two years off he’s done a great job.
“He got out of the start gate in a hurry today and charged all the way to the finish. I thought he skied very well.”
The results at Kvitfjell cemented spots in the World Cup finals for both Osborne-Paradis and Hudec. The veterans were on the bubble heading into Saturday’s race, but moved well up the season rankings to finish among the top 25 skiers who will get invites to Lenzerheide, Switzerland, later this month. Manny now sits 13th for the year, while Guay is sixth to lead the Canadian crew.
The Canadians were unable to roll the momentum over to Sunday’s (March 3) super-G, as Hudec’s 16th-place finish was the only one in the points. Osborne-Paradis started 51st on Sunday, needing at least a top-25 finish to earn a spot in the race at Lenzerheide, but he skied out early and did not advance to the discipline finals.
“Man, that was a long day to go out on the 4th gate!” Osborne-Paradis said on his Twitter account following the race.
Svindal clinched the season super-G title with a win.
Just one World Cup stop remains before the season finals, with men’s technical races taking place Saturday and Sunday (March 9 and 10) at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
Whistler’s Mike Janyk has some work to do in Sunday’s slalom in order to qualify for finals. He currently sits 39th in the discipline standings and will need a podium finish in order to crack the top 25.