Downhill delay no surprise to Manny

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

WHISTLER, B.C. — As a lifelong man on the mountains here, Manny Osborne- Paradis is used to the hurry up and wait world of skiing in the Pacific Northwest.

Fog. Rain. Too much snow. Not enough.

The Canadian Cowboy’s quest to win Olympic gold hasn’t been derailed, just delayed as officials did the expected early Saturday and postponed the showcase event due to soggy, soupy weather.

With more mild temperatures and snow in the mountains dominating the forecast, the downhill has been rescheduled for Monday morning, which will force the entire alpine schedule to be juggled.

“We have two weeks to run it, so it’s going to get run,” Osborne-Paradis said after one of his training runs earlier this week. “It’s not like a World Cup where you’ve just got the weekend.”

Ranked fourth in the World Cup downhill standings, Osborne-Paradis was one of three athletes touted as having a shot to win Canada’s first Olympic gold on home soil Saturday, but that will have to wait. Along with Robbie Dixon, who also learned to ski in the B.C. resort town, the wild shift in conditions is something he knows well.

The men’s downhill is often considered one of the showstoppers of the Winter Games, and was intended to be a focal point of the opening day of competition.

“The downhill is a highlight of the Olympics,” race director Gunter Hujara said. “It is supposed to be the first event, so there is a lot of value in it.

“To postpone can damage the value of it, but this is not our concern. Our concern is to have the best conditions.”

To put it mildly — pun intended — those conditions have been miserable here for most of the past week. Because of the rain and humidity, the slopes have deteriorated significantly.

As much as 30 centimetres of fresh snow is in the forecast, which will create additional challenges, but with temperatures expected to dip on Sunday, Hujara is confident the downhill will go Monday.

“I am not confident, I am sure,” Hujara said. “We will see the men’s downhill on Monday at 10:30.”

The downhill isn’t the only alpine event affected. The women’s super-combined, which was scheduled for Sunday, has been pushed all the way back to Thursday because competitors have been unable to get a practice run in.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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