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Whistler skiers lead the way in downhill

Osborne-Paradis on the podium as storms hit European World Cup races



The FIS Alpine World Cup squeezed in several events before the Christmas break with a mix of weather and conditions as Europe continued to be hit by wave after wave of snowstorms. Events were delayed, moved and cancelled, as skiers wrestled with everything from snow to wind to low visibility. Luckily those seem to be the conditions where Canadian skiers thrive.

Through it all, Canada picked up its third medal of the season. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, an alumnus of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, earned a bronze medal in the downhill at Val Gardena/Groeden, Italy Saturday to cap a successful day and week at the Italian resort.

Osborne-Paradis completed a shortened, technical Saslong course in one minute, 51.11 seconds, just 0.16 back of American Bode Miller. Michael Walchhofer of Austria picked up the gold medal.

It was Osborne-Paradis’s fourth career medal in three seasons, or 58 World Cup starts — all of them in downhill so far.

“This was big,” he said. “It was good for me. I have been so close to being on the podium and just haven’t been able to do it. To finally get on that step was a big achievement for me.”

Erik Guay was fifth at Val Gardena, .22 seconds behind Osborne-Paradis. Whistler’s Robbie Dixon had his best ever World Cup downhill result, finishing 13 th

John Kucera also cracked the top-30 in that race, placing 22 nd .

Osborne-Paradis had a quiet week in training, finishing 22 nd and 37 th on the downhill, but kicked things into high gear Friday for the first day of racing, a super G. He finished 13 th in that event, then attacked the downhill from midway through the pack.

“I just pulled it together today. Today is what counts,” he said following his bronze medal. “In races to come I hope to be better in the training because there is no reason why I shouldn’t, and yes, it does make it harder for me on race day (because of start position).”

It was Canada’s third medal this season, coming after medals by Kucera and Guay. The women’s team, stronger last season, has yet to win any hardware.

While Osborne-Paradis won the only podium of the weekend, other Canadians had solid days.

In Friday’s opening super G, Guay was seventh, just 0.33 seconds back of third place. Osborne-Paradis was 13 th , Dixon 22 nd and Kucera 25 th . On the strength of his podium and consistent results, Kucera is now ranked fourth in the super G, and 17 th overall on the World Cup circuit. Only Guay ranks higher, 13 th overall, with a fifth place rank in downhill and eighth place rank in super G.