Maybe Olympic disappointment is Erik Guay's recipe for World Cup success.
After coming up short in Sochi, the Canadian downhiller came back with a win when the World Cup schedule resumed at Kvitfjell, Norway, the fifth of his career and second this season.
The victory on Saturday, March 1 brought back memories of Guay's post-Olympic run in 2010. That year, after finishing fifth twice in Whistler during the Games, he returned to the World Cup with back-to-back super-G wins, clinching the discipline's Crystal Globe.
A season title is out of reach this year as the World Cup finals approach — Aksel Lund Svindal has the downhill and super-G crowns secured already. But the Canadians are looking to end the season strongly by building off Jan Hudec's Olympic bronze.
"I was looking to bounce back and find my form," said Guay, who was 10th in the Sochi downhill and went off course in the super-G. "The last couple of months have been tough on me, hurting my knee, and especially through the Olympics... when I have pain I have a hard time pushing through and finding confidence. I'm learning to ski that way. It's not ideal but I want to finish the season strong."
It was a weekend of decent results for the team overall, as Guay was fourth in the first downhill from Kvitfjell on Feb. 28, then finished ninth in the super-G on Sunday, March 2. Whistler Mountain Ski Club product Manuel-Osborne Paradis finished eighth for the best Canadian super-G result.
Osborne-Paradis had a frustrating Olympics, with unlucky start positions that led to 24th- and 25th-place finishes in the Sochi speed events. But he turned an earlier start on Sunday into his best super-G result of the season, which earned him a place on the discipline's start list at the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, later this month.
"We've had such soft races the whole year and I finally had a good start number," said Osborne-Paradis, who was also 25th and 21st in the Kvitfjell downhills.
"I definitely had lost a little bit of my touch.
"What was fast in the summer for me really didn't work out. This is my first year of really testing different things. Today I went with my old (setup) and I felt very comfortable."
Osborne-Paradis has been making tweaks to his ski setup, trying to find something more comfortable.
Whistler's Conrad Pridy had top-50 results in all three Norwegian races, his best finish coming in the first downhill, when he was 48th. Morgan Pridy's best finish was a 52nd-place result in the second downhill.
Since Osborne-Paradis, Guay and Hudec are each ranked in the top 25 for both downhill and super-G, they'll all compete in those disciplines at Lenzerheide.
HICKS BACK WITH MOGULS TEAM
Whistler's Eddie Hicks re-joined the Canadian moguls team at Inawashiro, Japan, this past weekend in its first World Cup action since the team claimed four Olympics medals.
"It feels great to be re-united with the whole team," Hicks said in an email. "I haven't seen some of the guys since mid-January and we had a lot of catching up to do with everything that happened at the Games."
Hicks skied a Nor-Am Cup event during the Olympic break, but said his motivation level went up a notch returning to World Cup competition. He did not advance to finals in the singles event Saturday, placing 18th, but made it to the Round of 16 in dual moguls action on Sunday.
Hicks was knocked out and finished 15th after a meeting with Japan's Sho Endo, who went on to a second-place finish behind Canada's Mikael Kingsbury.
"I'm definitely not entirely enthusiastic about my results here," said Hicks, whose best finish came in Calgary in January, when he was 11th. "I wanted to do a lot more and feel like I fell far short of my potential this weekend."
Olympic champ Justine Dufour-Lapointe and oldest sister Maxime Dufour-Lapointe were first and third in women's singles racing, but the Canadians were shut out in duals. Marc-Antoine Gagnon and Pascal-Olivier Gagné each had podium finishes for the Canadian team at Iwanashiro as well.
Hicks said he feels he's skiing well, but has been making small mistakes that make for a big difference on the score sheet. He'll have his next chance to clean up his execution at Voss, Norway, on March 15 and 16.
"I'm really looking forward to Voss," said Hicks. "It's a great course for me and should be a really great event."
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