Osborne-Paradis leads Canadian contingent with 14th-place finish in downhill
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JEONGSEON, Korea, Republic Of — Ideal spring-like skiing conditions replaced the wintry weather that has lashed Jeongsen Alpine Centre of late. The change didn't help Manuel Osborne-Paradis or the other Canadians in the men's downhill at the Pyeongchang Games.
Osborne-Paradis led the windy opening training session but couldn't duplicate the effort Thursday, settling for a 14th-place result in one minute 41.89 seconds.
"I skied to my plan," he said. "You make little mistakes but that's how you go. I ended up a little low in a place and I made a good turn out of it. I just didn't bring my speed.
"My skiing was on point of where my skiing is at right now."
Aksel Lund Svindal (1:40.25) led a 1-2 Norwegian finish with Kjetil Jansrud (1:40.37) and world champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland was third (1:40.43).
Osborne-Paradis took on more of the Canadian spotlight here after Montreal's Erik Guay pulled out two weeks ago due to back problems. They reached the super-G podium together at last year's world championship.
Making his fourth Games appearance after debuting in Turin in 2006, the Invermere, B.C., racer lost a little time at the start of the downhill when he drifted on a turn.
He tried to make up for it and delivered a steady — if unspectacular — performance.
The 2.97-kilometre layout suits his style well. Known for impressive gliding skills and finesse on the course, Osborne-Paradis just didn't have the required pace on this day.
Disappointment was etched on his face when he looked at the scoreboard.
"When I came down I thought my time would have been better," he said. "But there were a couple spots on the way down and I'm like, 'Oh man I'm just draining time with this turn.' But you kind of know. But you make those turns also when you're charging and whatever."
The race was originally scheduled for last Sunday but was postponed due to bad weather. The other Canadians finished well back.
Ben Thomsen, from Invermere, B.C., was 28th in 1:43.19. Dustin Cook of Lac-Sainte-Marie, Que., finished 32nd in 1:43.80 and Broderick Thompson of Whistler, B.C., was 35th in 1:44.37.
Thomsen is a fan of the more aggressive tracks on the tour. He felt good at the start but tailed off quickly.
"I really don't know what happened," he said. "I'll have to wait to look at the video and assess how things went. It felt good, I gave it my all. I'm pretty disappointed with being three seconds out but that's racing. That's the way it goes."
Cook, meanwhile, was essentially using the race as preparation for the super-G while Thompson is soaking up the experience of competing in his first Olympic Games.
You never want to read too much into a training run performance because many skiers are getting comfortable and some dial things back.
But Osborne-Paradis was feeling comfortable and confident. He said that he felt a good run would put him right in the mix.
Instead he had to watch from the finish area as his position kept sinking as skiers came in.
"The top three guys in the world are the top three guys on the downhill podium," Osborne-Paradis said. "I've been sitting right where I've been all season too, right around 14th. It is what it is."
Osborne-Paradis has been a regular in the top 20 at World Cup downhills this season but has cracked the top 10 only once.
"You always search a little bit more when you're not skiing your best," he said. "I'd hoped to peak a little earlier in the season but it's just been a little trying (this) season, a little tough."
Former teammate Jan Hudec, now competing for the Czech Republic, was 45th.
The dual citizen ended Canada's 20-year Olympic podium drought in men's alpine skiing with a super-G bronze four years ago in Sochi.
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