No home advantage for downhillers

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Manuel Osborne-Paradis shows his dejection after finishing 17th in the men's downhill Monday, Feb. 15, 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics. (Al CHAREST/QMI AGENCY)

WHISTLER, B.C. - Familiarity led to failure for Canada’s men’s alpine team, silencing a big, boisterous home crowd at Whistler Mountain.

Going for gold cost both Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Robbie Dixon dearly as the alpine events finally got under way over an icy, bumpy Dave Murray Downhill course.

Osborne-Paradis, a two-time winner of World Cup downhill events and a mild favourite here, struggled in the middle portions of the race and finished a disappointing 17th, 1.13 seconds behind winner Didier Defago of Switzlerland.

Dixon, who was second in the lone training run, crashed at a point of the course known as Double Trouble and did not finish.

Defago’s winning time of 1:54.31 was .07 seconds better than silver medallist Aksel Svindal. American bad boy Bode Miller was a surprise bronze medallist while the only Canadian to crack the top 10 was Erik Guay, who was a solid fifth.

Osborne-Paradis was prepared to take his lumps for the loss but made no apologies for going for gold.

“It’s the Olympics, nobody cares who is fourth,” said the North Vancouver, who grew up skiing on the same mountain as a child.

“There’s three spots and the rest really don’t matter.”

Dixon said the pressure to perform in front of a home crowd weighed heavily on the men known as the Canadian Cowboys.

“Everyone felt (the pressure) for sure - it was pretty heavy - but we tried to use it in a positive way,” Dixon said. “As (crappy) as it is right now, it’s pretty special to be here racing for my country in my own backyard.

“It’s tough to not becoming down to the finish in the right way, but that’s racing.”

POLL