Alpine skiers still have no medals

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal stops in the finish area following his run in the men's Super G at the Whistler Creekside venue in Whistler, B.C. on Friday, February 19, 2010. (AL CHAREST/QMI AGENCY)

WHISTLER, B.C. — Forget Own the Podium for the host country, Aksel Svindal is going to leave these Olympics owning Whistler Mountain.

The Norwegian skier, who was denied access to the slopes when he came here to train with the Canadian men’s team last spring, had the last laugh and then some Friday.

Svindal skied the sunny Whistler Creekside course like it belonged to him, winning gold in the men’s Super-G, a nice upgrade on the silver he collected in the downhill Monday.

Svindal’s time of 1:30.34 was .28 faster than American Bode Miller, who won bronze in the downhill while another American, Andrew Weibrecht, was just another .03 behind in third.

Erik Guay put in a strong effort to finish fifth, but anything less than a medal showing had to be scored as a failure for the Canadian team, which is now likely to be blanked on the slopes in these Games.

B.C.’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a Super-G winner on the World Cup circuit this year, crashed out just 33 seconds into his run.

“It was a good opportunity, and it was an opportunity lost,” Osborne-Paradis said of the home-hill advantage.

It also marked a low point in the history of the Canadian Alpine program which, barring a miracle finish in one of the upcoming events, will be without an Olympic medal now for two decades.

Edi Podivinsky’s bronze in 1994 was the last time a Canadian ski racer stepped atop the podium — a medal-less blight that is threatening to stretch through four Games.

“It is disappointing for us, and I think for Canada,” said Guay, who finished just .02 away from a bronze, a painful reprise of the fourth-place showing in the ‘06 Turin Games where he missed a medal by just .01. “We wanted to deliver medals but it just didn’t happen.

“Today hurts, I’m not going to lie.”

It was the second shot at redemption in five days for Svindal, a two-time World Cup champion in the past, who clearly has regained his form.

The Norwegian star was miffed on his most recent visit to Whistler, however. Having missed the 2008 World Cup event here due to injury, he arrived at Creekside this past March expecting to train with the Canadian team only to be denied access by an official.

“Someone decided for the Canadian team against the coaches what was best,” said Svindal, who apparently didn’t need the extra practice. “They didn’t leave it up to the coaches to make the decision. This had nothing to do with Alpine Canada; it was someone higher up.”

In terms of Canada’s bid to Own The Podium, the U.S. has all but guaranteed they won’t be caught with their success in the Alpine events. With Weibrecht and Miller’s success Friday, the U.S. has won six medals in alpine. The Canadians, meanwhile have put the “O” in Own the Podium.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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