Forget Invermere. Don’t even think of Calgary. Despite the media’s frenetic efforts to place Canada’s newest World Cup star, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, on the wrong side of the Rockies, his mom Jane Osborne wants to make sure that people know he’s 100 per cent West Coast. A third-generation Whistler skier in fact. And there aren’t many of those around…
More striking, however, is that Manuel was introduced to skiing by a single parent. Check the statistics. There are even fewer of those. In fact, not many young skiers make it to the top echelons of the sport without a full complement of family members to support them in their quest. But Manuel has somehow managed to accomplish the impossible. In only his third full year on the World Cup circuit, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus has defied the odds by standing on two downhill podiums this winter — one in Lake Louise, the other in Val D’Isere. So how did they do it?
Fortunately, grandpa was there to take up the slack. “I was on my own with Manuel from the time he turned two,” explains Jane. “It was my choice but I definitely had my hands full. As a youngster, Manuel was busy. Very busy. And physical. Having grown up with a twin sister I had very little experience with that kind of energy — I had to learn how to live with a little boy.” She laughs. “Everything was about doing — soccer, baseball, mountain biking. That’s where my father played a huge role. He supported me when I thought I would go nuts…” She stops talking for a moment, Smiles. “Although dad was never a ‘serious’ athlete, he’s often told me that Manuel’s energy reminds him a lot of himself when he was younger.”
Skiing became the threesome’s common ground. “It was a good time in my dad’s life,” she continues. “He was working less so he was able to relax and have fun with Manuel. Since he was still skiing, that seemed to be a good connection too.”
And the young energy bomb thrived in that environment. “I don’t know if it’s inherent or learned,” muses Jane. “But skiing offers a kid great autonomy. By the time he was seven, Manuel was heading up the mountain by himself. He once claimed that he could fit in six runs before meeting up with his Ski Skamps class at 9:30 a.m....”
Still, chances are it would have never happened without grandpa.