There are 13 screws in Manuel Osborne-Paradis’ rebuilt left leg.
An X-ray shows that most of them have had their heads sheared off, and it’s not hard to imagine the excruciating pain associated with that development, which occurred during a rehab session that set his recovery back three months.
Technically the screws aren’t loose, despite what one might think about his plan to return to competitive ski racing.
“At this moment in time, with the way the rehab is going — through all the setbacks we’ve had and all the amazing recoveries we’ve had — my team and the doctors I’m working with are not pessimistic at all,” he said last week from his home in Invermere, B.C. “They’re very optimistic, which wasn’t the case six months ago or 10 months ago. That’s the true tale of this comeback. This is going to be one for the books as far as our medical staffs are concerned.”
Osborne-Paradis, a downhill and Super G specialist with 11 World Cup medals on his resume, crashed during a Nov. 21, 2018 training run at Lake Louise. He was airlifted out to a Calgary hospital, his fibula in pieces, his body racked with pain, his blood supply dangerously low. In the two weeks immediately following the crash, he underwent two major and seven minor surgeries. Doctors patched him back together with bone cement, the aforementioned package of screws, and an arthritic hip bone, not his own.
“They couldn’t fix my bone,” he said.
Eleven months later, the pain is still considerable, the mass of his left leg about 70% lower than his right, but he is able to ride 100 kilometres a day on his road bike, play hockey, take power skating lessons, and talk with absolute clarity and optimism about returning to the pre-crash racing form — which he swears was the best of his career — that would propel him to a fifth Olympics at Beijing 2022.
“It’s been an amazing career. I’m not holding onto a dream. I’ve succeeded in all of my childhood goals. That’s happened. Is there more that I want? Absolutely. Is there a chance to get an Olympic medal? Absolutely. Is there another world championship? Absolutely.
“The hardest part about the whole injury is that I know, my coaches know, the team knows that I was skiing by far the best I’d ever skied at Lake Louise. I was in the best shape I’d ever been and I was skiing like 10 times better than I have ever skied. We were going into the season not really thinking of where we were going to have top 10s, we were going to go to every race, or the majority of them, podium-bound. We were jazzed.”
To read the whole interview by Dan Barnes click here.
FIS and the whole skiing world wish "Manny" a good recovery and hope to see him competing with the fastes skiers on the planet again soon.