Osborne-Paradis captures Saslong downhill
By Brian Pinelli
Starting ninth, Canada's Manuel Osborne-Paradis took advantage of favorable conditions on the famed Saslong piste to win his second career downhill and third World Cup race. The 25-year-old Canadian from North Vancouver held on for the victory despite an impressive effort by Austria's Mario Scheiber skiing 25th and coming within 0.13 seconds of the Canadian.
"This is huge for me - I wanted to win this one really badly," said Osborne-Paradis about Saturday's triumph. "I've always thought it would be cool to win here in Val Gardena. I also thought it would be a good place for my first win, but too bad I won in Kvitfjell last year (laughs). I won't trade that one, I'm fine with this being my second, well third win now."
Osborne-Paradis finished third here last season, behind Austria's Michael Walchhofer and Bode Miller of the U.S. Saturday was a much different story for the Canadian who sped down the Saslong in a time of 2:01.27.
"It's an awesome feeling to win - when you win people know it," Osborne-Paradis continued. "In 2009 I won it and sometimes nobody cares about second or third. It's a big thing. That was my goal - I knew I had to nail the top flats and the Ciaslat (a twisting section with rollers near the lower part of the course) and I did it."
Scheiber who has battled injuries in the past had a splendid run and was even briefly ahead of the Canadian at one of the timing intervals. His finishing time was closer than some expected to Osborne-Paradis and good enough for his fourth career second place result.
"It was a very good run for me today," said the 26-year-old Austrian. "The course was not so easy and it was my first time here. I had a good feeling during the run and I'm pretty happy."
"I adamantly watch but I was not necessarily nervous," said Osborne-Paradis about being down bottom with the lead. "Although, I was a little nervous when Scheiber came down. It's out of your control and you do get nervous points but there is nothing much that you can really do."
Later in the race, wind seemingly picked up on the mountain perhaps challenging and slowing down top racers starting in the mid-teens and early- twenties.
Leaving the starthouse 22nd, Bode Miller finished ninth, while Didier Cuche, who ran 20th ended up tenth.
Last year's champion, Michael Walchhofer, who has had tremendous success in the past in Val Gardena, started 16th and finished fifth.
"I had a great feeling and thought it was a good run, but it wasn't enough," said the Austrian veteran. "Maybe the other guys were just too fast. It's hard to analyze it."
Switzerland's Ambrosi Hoffmann and France's Johan Clarey, who both began their runs starting in the top ten posted the exact same time, 0.25 seconds behind Osborne-Paradis and finished tied for third.
Two racers after Scheiber, Canada's Robbie Dixon took to the course and had a solid run going, even coming within 0.11 seconds of his teammate in the lead at the third timing split. The 24-year-old from Vancouver finished a very respectable sixth just a half second back.
"If Robbie beat me, I wouldn't have cared. He is skiing awesome," said Osborne-Paradis. He's my good buddy and I would have been as happy for him as I was for me."
Osborne-Paradis can savor his victory until after Christmas and the next race - a downhill slated for Bormio, Italy on Tuesday, December 29. The Canadian and American teams will spend the holiday together in Italy sharing a Christmas Eve dinner and playing some good-natured ice hockey together.
"This is going to be awesome. I'm staying over here and my girlfriend is coming in a few days," he said. "It's a lot better staying over here when you're doing well then when you're doing crappy. I can tell you that."
Considered one of the funniest guys on tour, the easy-going Canadian doesn't seem to mind this honor attributed to him by his fellow racers.
"Obviously it's good to be funny, isn't that what girls always want," he jokes. "They want long walks on the beach and funny guys that make them laugh. Hey wait - you guys have recorders going."
For Osborne-Paradis, it was his seventh career downhill podium to go along with his Lake Louise super-G victory. He now stands fourth in the World Cup downhill standings behind Austria's Walchhofer and Switzerland's Carlo Janka and leader Didier Cuche.
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