While Manny Osborne-Paradis has only missed the top 30 once in races he's completed this season, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club veteran has also only hit the top 10 once.
Heading into this weekend's action in Kitzbuhel, Austria, the 33-year-old is still seeking both his first podium appearance of the season and at the prestigious venue. By his standards, Osborne-Paradis has struggled there, with a single top-10 finish in the downhill in 2013, but he's finished no lower than 19th in four races over the last two seasons there and has eight top-20 placements at Kitzbuhel over the course of his career.
After making an equipment switch prior to last season, he's feeling more confident, but still feels he has more to give.
"Right now, compared to last season, my results are better and a bit more consistent," he said. "On these Head skis, I feel like I have a lot more speed... I'm going into sections with more speed. When I'm doing training runs, I carry more speed.
"It's a ski that's really hard to ski on. You need a lot of pressure and you really need to work the ski in to ski it."
Though he's making progress with his skis, Osborne-Paradis acknowledged he hasn't been where he wants to be putting two strong runs one after the other.
"I just haven't been able to put anything together yet this year. I have splits where I've won splits and then all of a sudden, I'm 35th. It's just putting it all together," he said. "I think I was close all year, it's just another step.
"I feel like I'm getting good splits but I'm not getting the results."
Osborne-Paradis is keen for this year's Kitzbuhel races, with the super-G on Friday, Jan. 19 and the downhill on Saturday, Jan. 20. The races will be shown live and then archived on www.alpinecanada.org.
"The race course itself this year is really good. It's massive and the jumps are huge," he said. "There's not a lot of bumps, but maybe in another training run or two, that'll change. Right now, it's really easy to carry a lot of speed.
"It's going to be a game of wanting it more than the next person not just by gritting your teeth and going down an icy slope but by burning the top of the turns with pressure and accelerating. That's what I've been getting better at in the past two years."
With his fourth Winter Olympic Games on tap next month, Osborne-Paradis is looking to improve on his best-ever result that occurred in his first Olympic race — a 13th in the downhill in the 2006 Games in Italy.
"The pressure for myself to do well has always been the same from when we started two seasons ago and started prepping at the beginning of the season with summer training. The pressure is in how I come into each day to try to be more professional, better at skiing and whatnot," he said. "It's a pressure that you put on yourself year-round for the Olympic Games."
With not only Kitzbuhel, which is circled on most skiers' calendars, but Garmisch Partenkirchen on tap as the final tune-ups for the Games, Osborne-Paradis said hitting those venues at this time is ideal for minimizing the Olympic monster in the back of his mind.
"We're not doing anything Olympic-wise until after Garmisch, which is a week before the Olympics. These are the most important races of the season. They're the core of our year and it actually kicks it up and takes away from our Olympic thoughts at this moment," he said. "These are just as important.
"It's a great thing."
Osborne-Paradis enters the Austrian races after taking the top-Canadian mantle in the downhill in Wengen, Switzerland on Jan. 13. Osborne-Paradis was 20th, 2.36 seconds back of Swiss winner Beat Feuz. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was second and Austrian Matthias Mayer took third. Fellow Whistlerite Broderick Thompson took 32nd and Ben Thomsen was 38th.
In the men's slalom the next day, Phil Brown was the lone Canadian to finish, placing 22nd. Austria's Marcel Hirscher dominated en route to the win, besting Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen by 0.93 seconds while Sweden's Andre Myhrer was third.
The women were in action in Austria. Roni Remme was the lone Canadian to finish the super-G on Jan. 13, taking 35th, nearly five seconds off the pace set by winner Federica Brignone of Italy. Lara Gut of Switzerland took second and Austria's Cornelia Huetter was third.
Remme was also the lone Canuck to complete the next day's downhill, finishing 36th. Italy swept the podium with Sofia Goggia taking the win by 1.1 seconds over Brignone and 1.45 seconds over Nadia Fanchini.