Canadas Manuel Osborne-Paradis wins first career super-G race at Lake Louise

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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LAKE LOUISE, Alta. - As Canadian alpine skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis claimed victory Sunday in the season-opening super-giant slalom at Lake Louise, his mother Joan couldn't help but cry.
"I'm really happy for him," she said. "I have to be reminded to breathe."
She wasn't the only one. Hundreds of Canadians turned out to cheer Osborne-Paradis on and gasped as challenger after challenger failed to beat his time of one minute 32.93 seconds.
It was a banner day for the Canadian squad. Erik Guay narrowly missed the podium, finishing fourth with a time of 1:33.68, while Robbie Dixon was fifth at 1:33.72.
Osborne-Paradis, who had never finished better than 13th in a World Cup super-G event, seemed just as surprised by the result as anyone.
"Wow. Did anybody else expect this? Because I didn't," he said after the race, chuckling.
"I just pushed it. I made lots of mistakes but I made sure the skis were always running cleanly and down the fault line and it worked out. It worked out really well."
Osborne-Paradis, 25, was born in North Vancouver but now resides in the community of Invermere, B.C.
He earned the first World Cup victory of his career last season in Norway in the downhill event.
After Sunday's win, Osborne-Paradis joked about how much time he spent during the summer learning how to actually turn on skis.
"I figured I'd go out and figure that out because it was hindering me quite a bit," he said with a smile splashed across his face.
While three Canucks in the top five was a welcome result for Canadian ski officials, the news wasn't all good.
Calgary native John Kucera, who won the downhill event at the world championship last season, crashed during his run and had to be airlifted off the course.
Alpine Canada said after the race that Kucera suffered a fractured left leg and would undergo surgery. Ski officials didn't know when he might return to action.
Osborne-Paradis did his best to celebrate his win, spraying his teammates with champagne, while at the same time expressing concern about Kucera's condition.
"That was the toughest part, I think. You're in the lead, but then you're obviously looking at your buddy who you train with all the time," he said.
"It's a sad thing to see."
Kucera finished sixth in Saturday's downhill event at Lake Louise. Osborne-Paradis was 16th.
Guay, who resides in Mont-Tremblant, Que., battled through an injury of his own to his back this past summer. He also wasn't happy with his performance in training sessions this past week.
But Guay, who was 21st in the downhill event Saturday, appeared more than satisfied with Sunday's result.
"Considering where I was last week, I think I made tremendous progress. I'm really happy with that," he said.
Like Osborne-Paradis, Guay said he had a tough time celebrating due to Kucera's injury.
"It's mixed feelings for sure," he said.
"(Kucera's) a strong young kid and . . . I have no question that he'll bounce back quickly."
Sandwiched between Osborne-Paradis and Guay on Sunday were Austrians Benjamin Raich and Michael Walchhofer, who finished second and third in the super-G respectively.
Dixon, a Whistler, B.C., resident who finished eighth in the downhill one day earlier, pumped his fist and saluted the crowd as he crossed the finish line Sunday.
"I just stuck with it and fought until the end and I came away with fifth," Dixon told reporters after his run. "I'm just so stoked right now."
Among other Canadians, Francois Bourque of L'Ange-Gardien, Que., was 27th in 1:35.05; Jan Hudec of Calgary was 29th in 1:35.11; and Louis-Pierre Helie of Berthierville, Que., was 34th in 1:35.33.
Austria's Didier Cuche, who won Saturday's downhill event, was 10th Sunday.
With his win, Osborne-Paradis vaulted up to sixth in the overall World Cup standings with 115 points. Cuche is first with 226 points.
Standing alongside Osborne-Paradis' mother during the race Sunday was his girlfriend, Lana McIntosh, who struggled to find the words to describe her excitement.
"His run today really is what excited us the most. It was so, so powerful and fast. We're just... oh my gosh," she said.
"I was not expecting such an attacking day, but wow."
While Osborne-Paradis has been adamant he's focusing on the World Cup season and not looking too far ahead to the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics in February, he said he was glad to get the win to cement his spot at the Games.
Alpine Canada officials have said if a Canadian skier wins a World Cup event, their spot at the Games is reserved for that event.
"My biggest thing is I really wanted to try and qualify for the Olympics, make sure that I can secure a spot so I can concentrate on the World Cup season at hand," he said.
"There's nothing like winning."

Organizations: Canucks, Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, Games

Geographic location: Lake Louise, Calgary, North Vancouver Invermere Norway Mont-Tremblant Whistler Berthierville Austria

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