By Rory Carroll
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Manny Osborne-Paradis posted the fastest time during the first downhill training of the Olympics on Thursday and delivered a boost of confidence to a Canadian team seeking to rejoin the upper echelons of Alpine skiing.
The 33-year-old Osborne-Paradis, who will compete in his fourth Games, relied on his strength as a glider to finish 0.31 of a second ahead of Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud on a sunny and mild day at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
Canadians hope the result is a sign of things to come for the team, which consistently reached Olympic podiums in Alpine from the 1960s to the 1980s but have since been overtaken by skiers from Austria, Switzerland and the United States.
“We’ve got some confidence after Manny won the training round,” said his Canadian team mate Benjamin Thomsen.
“I’ve beaten him in training and he’s beaten me, so I’m definitely taking some confidence from that.
“When you train with someone a lot and you’ve beaten them in the past, you know you can do it again.”
The Canadian team will look to Osborne-Paradis for leadership following last month’s withdrawal from the Games of Erik Guay, Canada’s most successful Alpine skier, with back pain just two days after being selected for the team.
That opens the door for newcomers like 23-year-old Broderick Thompson, who qualified for his first Olympics in the first two downhills of the season, and said the course’s grippy snow favours the Canadian team’s strength as turners.
“We push each other every day and try to make each other faster,” he said.
“We spend a lot of time together and we’re really close.
“We get on each other’s nerves every once in a while but you’re always there for each other.”
The men’s downhill will be held on Sunday.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll)