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Canadian skiers earn Olympic qualification at Lake Louise

Osborne-Paradis, Guay, Hudec each post top-12 finishes in first World Cup speed races
Manuel Osborne-Paradis skis the World Cup super-G at Lake Louise on Sunday, Dec. 1. He and teammates Erik Guay and Jan Hudec each met their qualification requirements for Canada's Olympic team over the weekend. Photo by Malcolm Carmichael / Courtesy of Alpine Canada

As the World Cup alpine season was about to kick off, Manuel Osborne-Paradis said he probably wouldn't be thinking much about the Olympics until the New Year. Now, he and two other teammates definitely won't have to.

Osborne-Paradis, a Whistler Mountain Ski Club alum, and teammates Erik Guay and Jan Hudec all qualified for Canada's Olympic team by posting top-12 finishes over the weekend at Lake Louise, which hosted the first World Cup downhill and super-G races on Saturday and Sunday.

Guay earned his way onto the squad headed to Sochi, Russia, with an eighth-place finish in Saturday's downhill, while Hudec was 10th and Osborne-Paradis 12th in Sunday's super-G.

Each of the three skiers needed just one top-12 finish in World Cup competition to secure their spots at the Olympics.

Osborne-Paradis said he and Hudec were glad to get their qualification out of the way on the first weekend of the season, particularly after both had frustrating downhill races on Saturday - Hudec finished 22nd and Osborne-Paradis placed 28th.

"Jan and I drove to the hill together today and we were like, 'Man, that sucked yesterday. I can't believe we didn't get that spot yesterday,'" said the 29-year-old. "We weren't going to really enjoy ourselves until we had that spot ... I'm really glad we both got in there."

Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal won Sunday's super-G, while Austrian skiers Matthias Mayer and Georg Streitberger were also on the podium. Guay finished 18th, while Whistler's Morgan Pridy had the next-best Canadian result, placing 41st.

Other Canadians in the field included Benjamin Thomsen (45th), Whistler's Conrad Pridy (52nd), Jeffrey Frisch (53rd) and Dustin Cook (58th).

Italy's Dominik Paris captured the first World Cup downhill of the Olympic year on Saturday, holding off Austria's Klaus Kroell by just .03 seconds for the victory. France's Adrien Theaux finished third.

Conrad Pridy was agonizingly close to the points on Saturday, finishing 32nd. It was the best result of his World Cup career at a venue other than Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where he's earned top-30 results each of the past two seasons.

"I thought it was really good, I was really happy with it," said Pridy, who started 57th in the downhill. "I was hoping it'd be a little faster. Everything I wanted to do I did, and I felt pretty fast the whole way. I'm confident in my skiing."

The younger Morgan Pridy, racing a World Cup at Lake Louise for the first time, finished 45th. Frisch placed 35th and Thomsen was 44th on Saturday.

Whistler's Robbie Dixon was with the team at Lake Louise and took the downhill training runs but did not start either race.

See Pique on Thursday, Dec. 5, for a complete wrap of the races from Lake Louise.