WENGEN, Switzerland – Manuel Osborne-Paradis gave Canada’s national men’s ski team a much-needed lift Sunday.
The Vancouver skier earned a bronze medal in a World Cup downhill event on the Lauberhorn. The result comes after the national ski team learned it would have to go the rest of the season without Calgary’s Jan Hudec, who had a win and third-place finish on the World Cup circuit this year but torn ligaments in his right knee and broke a thumb after crashing in the training run.
“It happens in this sport especially in downhill . . . it’s too bad,” he said. “I think the hardest part now with Jan is that we’ve got a nice group of four and five guys here that all get along and all have figured out how to ski around each other.
“And now you’re missing one link to the chain.”
Osborne-Paradis finished 1.3 seconds behind winner Bode Miller of the United States. Osborne-Paradis said registering the medal-winning performance was a huge relief for him.
“It’s just been Jan who’s been on the podium so far this year,” he said. “It was good after his injury to be able to show that the team is still here, we’re still skiing fast and that we can pull through with injuries like that and come through with medals.’
Osborne-Paradis earned the bronze medal despite catching his buckle on a safety bag.
“I went in pretty straight and wanted to take that line and I was wondering if I would get away with it,” he said. “Definitely, I was racing to win so I tried a line that I hadn’t necessarily tried the whole week.
“I just wasn’t able to get away with it but mentally it didn’t screw me up or anything. It’s a long race and you’re always making mistakes on the way down so you just kind of go with the flow. When you’re halfway through the race you still have to stay focused on what you have to do on the bottom half.”
With the win, Miller tied the American record of 27 World Cup wins.
Miller, who won the same event last year, finished with a time of two minutes 30.40 seconds.
“It was extremely fun,” he said. “It didn’t feel that good in terms of the quality of the skiing but I was very aggressive.
“I kept really pushing forward the whole time. There was no braking.”
Didier Cuche of Switzerland was second, 0.65 seconds back.
Miller, who broke away from the American national team to compete on his own this season, now shares the record with Phil Mahre.
The historic downhill course on the Lauberhorn varies widely, featuring both the fastest and slowest stretches on the men’s tour. The straight Hanegg section pushes racers to speeds up to 94 miles an hour and a passage over a bridge in a curve forces them to slow to 44 m.p.h.
At nearly 4.5 kilometres, the Lauberhorn is also the longest course.
Miller trailed Osborne-Paradis at the first split, and failed to match Cuche’s speed under the water station tunnel where skiers duck under the Jungfrau region’s famed cog railway midway down the piste.
But the 30-year-old American pulled away on the long, gliding sections in the second half of the course. After clearing the famous jump into the finish, he looked at his time and pumped his fist.
With files from The Associated Press