Fighting the bad light

SHAWN SLAGHT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

BANFF, Alta. -- On the heels of his first World Cup win in the downhill last season in Kvitfjell, Norway, Vancouver's Manuel Osborne-Paradis looks to climb the podium on home soil this weekend at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup.

He struggled through the training runs earlier in the week, placing 46th and 22nd. Osborne-Paradis ran into flat lighting during his first training run that made visibility difficult.

"I think light is the most crucial thing there is in ski racing," he said. "It can mean a lot. Some people had lighting and some people didn't."

He said the difference between having good light and bad can be a matter of seconds, as skiers have to sit back on the tail of their skis and can't accelerate through the corners. They will hit every bump and ripple.

"If the light was sunny all day, it would be a fair race," he said.

In his training run yesterday, Osborne-Paradis started in 19th position, where he was able to handle the light. However, he was disqualified for missing a gate.

Going into the weekend, though, he is prepared to deal with flat lighting, which has been an ongoing issue at Lake Louise. If the lighting is flat and the run is rough, he might not take an aggressive line around gates. He has also been working with different lenses in his goggles.

"You have to be ready to adapt to different lighting and different tactics if the light does change," Osborne-Paradis said.

Overall, Osborne-Paradis is looking forward to seeing how the national team will fare in Lake Louise this weekend with the downhill today and the super G tomorrow.

YOUTH COULD SURPRISE

He felt it's the younger skiers -- such as Robbie Nixon, who had the fastest time in the first training run Wednesday -- who could surprise people this weekend.

"He is just getting more comfortable, and it'll be good to push him forward," he said.

When it comes to the veterans such as himself, John Kucera and Erik Guay, Osborne-Paradis said they need to step up, and it showed in the second training run.

"We are working our way up, but we are doing really well for our age and how we want to compete at the World Cup," he said.

Lake Louise hasn't been kind to Osborne-Paradis in recent years.

Last year, he had a 30th-place finish in the downhill and 27th-place finish in the super G. However, he did score his first World Cup podium at Lake Louise in 2006.

Osborne-Paradis is coming off one of his best seasons during the 2008-09 World Cup year. He had three podium finishes, including third place in the downhill, also in Kvitfjell, and third at Val Gardena-Groeden, Italy. He had nine top-10 finishes last season.

CAL-SPORTS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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