Whistler's Manuel Osborne-Paradis didn't have any kind of home course advantage racing the national downhill championships in Whistler on Saturday, as the course didn't exist until last year and the first time he got to race the new Dave Murray National Race Centre on Ptarmigan was two days ago during training.
But Osborne-Paradis figured out the short but wining course quickly, and managed to build a gap of close to three-quarters of a second by the end of the race.
He finished in 1:01.97, followed by Jeffrey Frisch in 1:02.64 and John Kucera in 1:02.79. Whistler's Morgan Pridy was fourth, Conrad Pridy was sixth and Brodie Seger 20th to round out the top 30.
While the event was missing two national team athletes -- Erik Guay and Jan Hudec decided to skip the event to heal from injuries -- Osborne-Paradis said the win was still significant for him.
"There's huge significance, especially this year coming back from and injury and skiing well," he said. "This is concrete proof that I'm back. I think it will bode well with sponsors to say in downhill I can win national titles, it's not a problem."
Osborne-Paradis missed most of the last two seasons with injuries, but returned to racing in November. Since then he has been in the top 10 in downhill several times, improving his bib draws and putting him back in a position to once again finish on the podium.
Osborne-Paradis was also amazed by the national training centre.
"This is awesome," he said. "There's so much potential here. The jump they could put at the bottom, and they could put a big jump in the middle... this is top-notch. I wish this was closed all year to people and and racers from all over Canada could come here and train speed. It's the perfect distance, it's a fast turnaround and you could train 10 to 12 runs a day here and really learn a lot of soft. It's got a lot of good elements and and a lot of ways you could set courses.
"It would be what Copper (Mountain) is to the U.S. team."
There was also a FIS women's downhill race, which was won by Larisa Yurkiw.
The Sport Chek Canadian National Championships continue on Sunday, March 24 with the women's downhill and a men's FIS race. For more, visit www.alpinecanada.org.