Recovering confidence in Kvitfjell 

Osborne-Paradis hits second podium of the season

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ROGER WHITNEY COURTESY OF ALPINE CANADA - SILVER STAR Manny Osborne-Paradis was on the FIS World Cup podium for the second time this season, finishing second in Kvitfjell on March 7.
  • Photo by Roger Whitney courtesy of Alpine Canada
  • SILVER STAR Manny Osborne-Paradis was on the FIS World Cup podium for the second time this season, finishing second in Kvitfjell on March 7.

In terms of peaks, it's been Manny Osborne-Paradis' best season in years.

The 31 year old has two FIS World Cup silver medals in the downhill — one from the season-opening event at Lake Louise, Alta. in December and a second in Kvitfjell, Norway on March 7. Most recently, Osborne-Paradis finished just 0.3 seconds behind Austria's Hannes Reichelt, who won with a time of one minute, 29.65 seconds (1:29.65).

In between his only two World Cup podium appearances since 2010, though, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club member failed to complete nearly half of his entries, bowing out early in five of 12 performances.

Skiing in Scandinavia has proved to be a cure for his confidence, as he completed the set of downhill medals at the mountain after winning gold and bronze there in consecutive races in 2009. He also won silver in the 2013 super-G and finished in the top five in downhill five of his last eight times there.

"It feels good. It's been a long, struggling season with no even medium results in the middle chunk of the season," he said. "With a couple races left, it keeps you motivated for the summer and keeps you motivated to keep pushing it."

After overcoming a lot in the macro sense this season, Osborne-Paradis also had to recover quickly in the micro one on Saturday. He was in last place early on after being hindered by immediate mistakes, but he got up to speed quickly as the day's fastest-clocked skier, topping out at over 150 km/h at one point. He explained ski racing can be blissful ignorance to everything beyond the task at hand, which proved to be a major benefit.

"The good thing about ski racing is you never actually know your time until you're at the bottom," he said. "I knew that I didn't ski those (early) turns as great as I should have, or as well as I wanted to, but I had no idea that I was already so far out of the race.

"I was pushing the race course and pushing my skiing. Mistakes do happen and obviously it shows that when you're in the right zone and the right frame of mind, you can persevere through those mistakes and they don't really get into your head."

Osborne-Paradis explained though his struggles provided blows to his confidence for much of the season, strong training runs in Norway helped him steel his mind and set himself up for a repeat when it mattered.

"(The familiar course) was a key factor for sure," he said.

"We had a couple new courses this year. (After) crashing at some of the major races, it was good to come back to a race course that I really didn't need to figure out. I know where it's fast. I know where I can push the line."

Osborne-Paradis operates on the mantra that "confidence trumps skill" and acknowledged he had some down times this year as confidence never seems to quite chart out in a straight line.

"It definitely wanes back and forth all the time," he said. "You can lose it as quickly as you can get it. It's definitely a roller coaster ride.

"The last training run before the race, I made a big mistake and had some good splits, still."

As well, the Kvitfjell course aligns with Osborne-Paradis' style, allowing him to ski in the tuck and providing a variety of terrain.

"When there's jumps and when there's flats, it seems like that's when I can excel a little bit more than just keeping turning," he said.

Speaking from France, where the alpine racers are getting set for the final races of the season at Meribel, Osborne-Paradis feels confident he can go into the summer with another strong showing, saying the French course aligns with his approach as well.

"I'll push the limit of the course and hopefully have another good result," he said. "With the guys' tour right now, it's so tight that nothing's ever a guarantee, but I feel like I've been skiing well.

"We'll keep pushing the limits and see what we can get away with, but it's definitely a course that suits my ability."

Whistler's Morgan Pridy and Broderick Thompson also took part, finishing 48th and 56th, respectively, while fellow Canadian Ben Thomsen scored a 17th-place finish.

Osborne-Paradis wasn't the only Canadian to depart the event with a medal as Ottawa's Dustin Cook placed third in the super-G on March 8, 0.33 seconds behind Norway's Kjetil Jansrud. Osborne-Paradis finished 18th and Thomsen 31st.

As for the ladies, who were competing at Garmisch Partenkitchen, Germany, Ontarian Larisa Yurkiw notched an 11th in the downhill and 30th in the super-G.

WMSC skiers at Junior Worlds

There was plenty of local representation at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Hafjell, Norway.

Whistler Mountain Ski Club members James Crawford and Brodie Seger wore the red and white for the men.

In the giant slalom on March 8, Seger was one spot behind top Canadian Patrick McConville in 23rd, while Crawford finished 41st. In the slalom on March 9, Martin Grasic was the only Canadian to finish, ending up in 25th.

The ladies fared better, with Valerie Grenier, Mikaela Tommy and Candace Crawford taking spots three through five in the giant slalom on March 7, while Stephanie Gartner was 36th and Jocelyn McCarthy 53rd.

As for the slalom on March 9, Roni Remme pulled off a top-10 finish, placing 10th. McCarthy was 20th and Gartner 35th.

Crawford re-emerged on March 10 with her second fifth-place finish, this time in the super-G. Remme was 49th, Gartner 52nd and McCarthy 65th. The same day, Crawford wound up ninth in the super combined, with Remme 35th, Gartner 39th and McCarthy 56th.

The event continues until March 13.


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