Ecstasy and agony for alpine ski team 

Manuel Osborne-Paradis wins super G at Lake Louise but John Kucera likely out for season


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team this past weekend as the speed team made its Olympic year debut at Lake Louise.

The best was a gold medal performance in the super G by Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus Manuel Osborne-Paradis, although there was also some good to report from his teammates as well.

The worst was a crash in the same race that left world downhill champion John Kucera sidelined indefinitely with a broken tibia and fibula. He reportedly underwent surgery on Sunday evening and although his rehabilitation got underway immediately it's likely that he will be unable to represent Canada in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The weekend got underway with the downhill, where both Kucera and Dixon had solid runs. Kucera placed sixth, less than 0.2 seconds off the podium, while Dixon placed a very solid eighth. Three other Canadians placed in the top-30 with Osborne-Paradis 16 th , Erik Guay 21 st and Louis-Pierre Helie 22 nd .

Kucera was happy with his result.

"My run was solid for sure," he said. "I think there are some sections that I was not as clean as I should have been and maybe could have skied better but that's racing, you never know."

Dixon would also have done a few things differently if he had the run over, but was content with his performance.

"I'm happy with my results," he said. "Yesterday I made a few mistakes. I am feeling really comfortable and confident with the training we had. I'm happy even if it was hard skiing. The light was a little flat but I just tried to make the best of it and looked for speed. I just tried to ski the best that I could."

Veteran Didier Cuche of Switzerland took the gold medal in the downhill. He was followed by Wener Heel of Italy. Carlo Janka, another Swiss skier, placed third.

In fact, the Swiss had four skiers in the top-10, including Ambrosi Hoffmann in fifth place and Tobias Gruenenfelder ninth. Canada and Sweden had two in the top-10, which left one spot for Austrian Michael Walchhofer.

Sunday's super G race took place in faster conditions and the Canadians were spectacular. Osborne-Paradis won the gold medal by 0.24 seconds over Austrian Benjamin Raich, with Walchhofer taking the bronze.

Erik Guay placed fourth, just 0.13 back of the podium while Dixon finished just 0.04 back of Guay to take fifth place.

Three skiers in the top-five at a World Cup super G is a record for the Canadian speed team.

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