February 11, 2006
Osborne-Paradis finishes second in training run
ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

TURIN, Italy - Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis finished second in the final downhill training run today as competitors jockeyed hard to finish as close to 30th as possible.

The Olympic downhill start list is set by reversing the top 30 finishers from the final training run, meaning Osborne-Paradis will start 29th in Sestriere Sunday morning.

Many of the favourites, including American Bode Miller who had a 1.5 second lead through the final interval, stood up and slammed on the brakes before they crossed the finish line. They did so in an effort to settle in the middle 30, considered the "sweet spot" for the downhill start.

"Considering that some guys slowed down before the finish, I probably would have made it in the top 10," said the 22-year-old Olympic rookie from North Vancouver, B.C., a long-shot to crack the top-ten.

"If I can keep this up, I can make it in the top 15 on Sunday for sure. It's not the greatest to start 29th for tomorrow's race. A good number would have been in the early teens."

American Daron Rahlves wrapped up a great week of training with a 10th-place finish, followed by Austrians Hermann Maier in 16th and Michael Walchhofer in 24th. Francois Bourque of New Richmond Que, will get a favourable start time on the icy course today by finishing 22nd, while Calgary's John Kucera will make his Olympic debut fourth out of the gate after finishing 27th.

"I'm satisfied about an early start number for tomorrow," said Kucera.

"I could have been a lot more aggressive at the top. I'll have to focus on that tomorrow. The top is getting slicker, so the line is more important. It's definitively getting rougher every day so an early start tomorrow will be good."

Alpine Canada's Chief Athletic Officer, Max Gartner, was encouraged by the improving confidence of a young Canadian team devoid of its only true downhill contender, Erik Guay who suffered a lower leg injury and is questionable for the Super G.

"Hopefully, all three Canadians will challenge for top 15 results," said Gartner.

"We have the youngest team here and the objective is to gain experience and to ski the race run as best as they can."

Entering into the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, the Canadian Alpine Ski Team has achieved eight World Cup podium results in the four skiing disciplines (slalom, giant slalom, super G, and downhill), surpassing its objective of six for the entire 2005-2006 racing season. With its second largest Olympic delegation ever, Alpine Canada has qualified 16 skiers with a goal of bringing back one Olympic medal from the Games.