By Andrew Mitchell
After a slow couple of weeks following the holidays the Canadian Alpine Ski Team found its groove again this past weekend, adding two more medals to their growing collection. Athletes who finished off the podium also managed to come close in some races, and finish in the top-30 in others to earn key FIS points.
The highlight of the weekend was Erik Guay’s and Manuel Osborne-Paradis’s double podium in the downhill at Val d’Isere, France on Saturday.
For Guay, who finished just 0.26 seconds back of Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin, a silver medal was redemption. After winning four medals in his first and early second season with the national team, he has been held back by a series of frustrating knee injuries. Finally healthy this season, his results have steadily improved from week to week.
“When I came here I just felt really focused and comfortable on my skis,” he said. “It’s been great that the team has been doing so well this year and having so much success that we can get two guys on the podium in one day, that’s pretty incredible.
“We’ve had medals in four disciplines this year so there are no more reasons to question us. I think we are just getting deeper and deeper. Everyone is really focused and motivated and if it’s not the speed team getting podiums it’s the technical guys. So it’s just really fun to be on the team right now.”
Osborne-Paradis, who trained and raced with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club until two seasons ago, placed a close third behind Guay to earn his second World Cup downhill medal of the season. His first medal was a silver at Lake Louise Winterstart.
Although he has struggled to get back into the top-10 since that performance, Osborne-Paradis never stopped trying.
“You go through some races and go back to the drawing board to try to figure things out,” he said. “It’s great to feel like this after a race.
“When I started skiing, that’s what I wanted to do — get on the podium at a World Cup race. This just proves that I can do it and that’s the best feeling.”
The last time two Canadians stood on the same podium was in 2005 when Genevieve Simard and Allison Forsyth placed second and third in a giant slalom in Italy.
The two additional medals brings Canada’s medal haul to eight, two-thirds of the way towards Alpine Canada’s goal of 12 medals this season. The team also has the goal of two medals at the Alpine World Championships.