It was the men’s turn to make their debut at the 2017 Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, and all everyone could say was ‘Oh Canada’.
Canadians Erik Guay and Manuel Osborne-Paradis entered the race as unlikely victors and ended up taking home the gold and bronze medals, respectively. Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud took silver in the action-packed race.
Guay won his second career World Championship medal, with a matching set after he last won the gold at the 2011 World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. While Guay is a steady force on the World Cup tour, he was not considered a big favorite to take the gold medal today, with just one super-G podium all season. He has had a steady stream of injuries over the past several years that have kept him just out of the spotlight, but today it was his turn to shine.
At 35 years of age, Guay also make history as the oldest-ever alpine world champion.
“It’s incredible,” said a clearly awestruck Guay after the race. “With the whole history with all of my injuries and even the crash last week in Garmish, it’s just amazing to be standing here as a world champion. I’m having a hard time finding words to express what this means and how I feel. To be on the podium today with two of my good friends Manny and Kjetil makes it even better.”
Jansrud looked to be poised for gold after a great run gave him the lead as the ninth skier down the hill. His toughest competition came when his teammate Aleksander Kilde stormed down the mountain and looked to take over the lead, but came out 0.09 seconds shy. But before the Norwegian duo could get too comfortable in the leader’s box, Guay was the next skier down with a flawless run which survived as the rest of the field could not come close to the gold-medal pace.
Birthday boy Osborne-Paradis provided the final surprise of the day when he shuffled the podium one last time, blazing down the course with bib 26 and ultimately taking third place, bumping Kilde out of medal contention. It is the Canadian’s first-ever world championship medal.
“I made a big mistake in the middle and I knew if I wasn’t perfect the rest of the way down that I had no chance,” said Osborne-Paradis. “But that’s the great thing with racing, you never know until you cross the line. Erik called me just before I raced and said, 'Don’t think, just go’, which is what I did and it worked.”
Compared to yesterday’s ideal conditions for the ladies’ super-G, the men had mostly cloudy skies. The day was also cloudy for the Swiss men’s team, who entered the race with high expectations but came away with only one racer, Carlo Janka, in the top 10.
Tomorrow, there are no medal events on the schedule as both the men and ladies have their final downhill training scheduled.
Note: The ladies’ held their first downhill training today before the men’s super-G competition. Ilka Stuhec (SLO) topped the field with a time of 1:34:23. Switzerland looked very strong with three athletes following Stuhec. Fabienne Suter, Lara Gut, and Jasmine Flury finished second, third and fourth, respectively, setting high expectations for Saturday’s downhill race. The training was the full length of the course. The only sour note from the training was the crash of Austrian Mirjam Puchner, who, according to initial reports, is being evaluated for a suspected broken leg.