Osborne-Paradis 16th in Italy 

Sports briefs: Swette, Fleckenstein shine in Nor-Am Cup action

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE RIDEWOOD FOR THE CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE - TOP CANADIAN Manny Osborne-Paradis was the top Canadian in the men's downhill event in Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy on Dec. 19, placing 16th.
  • Photo by Mike Ridewood for the Canadian Olympic Committee
  • TOP CANADIAN Manny Osborne-Paradis was the top Canadian in the men's downhill event in Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy on Dec. 19, placing 16th.

Manuel Osborne-Paradis made it back on the mountain in Italy.

The WMSC skier placed 16th in the men's downhill on Dec. 19 in Val Gardena-Groeden, the site of his World Cup win in 2009.

Osborne-Paradis posted a time of one minute, 58.05 seconds to finish 2.16 seconds back of winner Steven Nyman of the United States.

Whistler's Morgan Pridy also took part in the race, finishing 54th with a 2:02.41.

Invermere's Ben Thomsen was the other Canadian to complete the circuit, placing 27th with a time of 1:58.92, while Calgary's Jan Hudec did not finish.

The following day, Osborne-Paradis was 20th in the super-G event, completing the runs in 1:35.38 while Pridy improved to 35th with a 1:35.99.

Ottawa's Dustin Cook was the top Canadian, tying for 12th by posting a 1:35.01, which was 1.14 seconds behind winner Kjetil Jansrud of Norway.

Thomsen was the final competing Canadian, finishing 45th with a 1:36.48.

Canadians also competed on Dec. 21 in the giant slalom at Alta Badia, Italy, though only one made the final.

Toronto's Trevor Philp placed 19th, scoring a 2:34.34, which was 4.17 seconds behind champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria.

Pridy, Calgary's Erik Read, and Toronto's Phil Brown did not qualify for a second run, while Cook did not complete his first run.

In the women's downhill in Val D'Isere, France on Dec. 20, Larisa Yurkiw of Toronto was the lone Canadian in the race, placing 13th with a time of 1:45.46, 0.99 seconds behind winner Lindsey Vonn of the United States.

In the next day's super-G, Yurkiw did not complete her first run.

Swette tops at Panorama

The Keurig Cup circuit got off to a refreshing start for Ford Swette.

The Whistler Mountain Ski Club senior racer rushed to a victory in the men's super-G at Panorama on Dec. 17.

Sitting third after his first run, Swette held off hard-charging American Samuel Dupratt to earn gold by 0.08 seconds. Swette's combined time was two minuts, 18.17 seconds.

Two other local skiers, Brodie Seger and Conrad Pridy, competed in the race, placing 27th and 40th, respectively.

In the giant slalom on Dec. 18, Swette finished just off the podium, placing fourth with a time of 2:20.76, 0.38 seconds behind Norway's Henrik Roea.

Seger (23rd), James Crawford (32nd), Broderick Thompson (41st) and Pridy (51st) also competed.

In the ladies' Alpine combined on Dec. 17, Stefanie Fleckenstein took eighth overall and second in the U18 category with a time of 1:46.59, 1.71 seconds behind winner Candace Crawford of Toronto. Fellow local Rae Swette was 28th with a 1:50.95 showing, while Sarah Kapur was 49th.

The next day, Squamish's Mikayla Martin and Swette competed in the giant slalom, placing 37th and 41st, respectively.

Fleckenstein also shone in the Keurig Cup Super Series opener on Dec. 19, taking first place in the U18 category and fifth overall in the slalom race, posting a time of 1:24.07. National development team skier Jocelyn McCarty cruised to victory with a time of 1:20.61.

Fleckenstein said it was worthwhile to compete, especially considering the good fortune of having the Keurig Cup and Nor-Am Cup races scheduled back to back.

"I knew it was going to be a good race, with all of the college girls sticking around here to race the Nor-Ams, so I took advantage of that and just went for it," Fleckenstein told the BC Alpine Ski Association website.

Other WMSC skiers completing the race were Gabrielle Smith, who finished 26th, Sarah Kapur, who was 32nd, Laura Swaffield, who was 33rd, and Rachel Kepl, who was 41st.

For full results, visit www.bcalpine.com.

Racer wins first skeleton gold in Calgary; Bobsledder makes history

Elisabeth Vathje made history at home.

The 20-year-old Calgarian won Canada's first-ever World Cup gold medal in skeleton at Canada Olympic Park in her hometown on Dec. 19. The gold comes after snagging silver in her first World Cup start in Lake Placid, N.Y. a week prior.

At Calgary, Vathje's time of one minute, 55.31 seconds was good enough to keep Great Britain slider Laura Deas at bay. Vathje's second run was of particular importance to her gold, as she posted a start time of 5.31 seconds — a personal best — en route to the win.

"It was such a great way to push off that second run," said Vathje in a Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton release. "I've been at this sport for seven years, so there was huge group of people excited to see me race my first World Cup here (in Calgary) and to have great results. It is incredible to do this at home. It is truly amazing."

Two other Calgarians represented Canada, as Lanette Prediger and Madison Charney finished seventh and 10th, respectively.

On the men's side, Brampton, Ont. veteran Dave Greszczyszyn was the best Canadian, tying for eighth with a time of 1:52.82. The two other Canadians, Barrett Martineau and Greg Rafter, did not qualify for a second run.

The Bobsleigh World Cup was held as part of the same weekend, and Calgarians were responsible for the hardware once again.

On Dec. 20, Kaillie Humphries and Kate O'Brien charged to the bronze medal with a time of 1:52.65. Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Cherrelle Garrett won the gold with a time of 1:51.76.

In the four-man race held the same day, Humphries and Meyers Taylor made history by becoming the first women to compete in four-man bobsleigh. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation changed a rule before the season allowing for mixed-gender competition.

Humphries competed with Dan Dale, Joey Nemet and Douglas McClelland, finishing 15th (1:48.87) while Meyers Taylor, Dustin Greenwood, Carlo Valdes and Adrian Adams were 16th (1:49.52).

"Today is step one for both Elana and I. We have a long way to go and a lot of learning to do," Humphries said in a release. "We are very eager and excited to be on this path. We are going to keep pushing, and keep learning. At the end of the day we are all competitors and want to win regardless if we are male or female."

The other Canadian teams were 10th and 11th, respectively. The team of Chris Spring, Alexander Kopacz, Joshua Kirkpatrick and Derek Plug posted a time of 1:48.54 and Justin Kripps, Lascelles Brown, Ben Coakwell and Bryan Barnett were just behind at 1:48.60.

The Latvian team of Oskars Melbardis, Daumants Dreiskins, Arvis Vilkaste and Janis Strenga took the gold with a time of 1:47.84.

On Dec. 19, in the two-man race, Summerland, B.C.'s Kripps and Edmonton's Barnett sledded to a ninth-place finish with a 1:50.33 combined time.

"I wasn't good all week in training so I was happy that I was able to clean things up a bit today," Kripps told the Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton website. "I cleaned up the top of the track. Just a lot of little things that you wouldn't see. I wasn't perfect by any means."

The other Canadian sled, with Spring and Brown, placed 12th with a time of 1:50.50. The Latvian sled of Melbardis and Dreiskens took gold with a two-run tume of 1:49.60.


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