Pair of Canucks hit top 10

SHAWN SLAGHT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:15 PM ET

LAKE LOUISE -- Calgary's John Kucera and Robbie Dixon of Whistler cracked the top 10 as Swiss skier Didier Cuche won the World Cup downhill season opener yesterday at Lake Louise.

Cuche blew away the field in the 18th starting position. He beat second-place finisher Werner Heel of Italy by nearly half a second with a time of one minute 50.31 seconds.

"He is strong in three disciplines, and he is going to be a favourite in every single race," Kucera said about the 35-year-old Cuche.

The conditions were not favourable for the racers, as it snowed for most of the day. All of the skiers made it down without incident except for American T.J. Lanning, who lost an edge and hit a gate. Lanning was airlifted from the course to hospital.

Dixon put through a run of 1:51.30, which was good enough for eighth place.

"I had an early start number and was able to take advantage of a smooth track," Dixon said. "The conditions today were not what we hoped for, but at least it is pretty consistent through the whole field."

Kucera knocked his teammate down a spot with a time of 1:51.12 to finish sixth.

"I skied strong, but there were definitely some sections that I could have done better," Kucera said. "Obviously, you always want to be up on the podium."

It is a good start to the season for Kucera, who had set out for a top-10 finish this weekend.

Kucera felt where he lost time was near the top when he got pushed wide on a couple of turns, but, otherwise, it was a strong result.

The other Canadians struggled on their home course. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, from Vancouver, was the next top Canadian, finishing in a tie for 16th with Didier Defago of Switzerland.

"I screwed up where you shouldn't screw up here, on fall away," said Osborne-Paradis. "On a mountain with one pitch, you have to nail the pitch or you won't have any speed for the flat."

Osborne-Paradis said lighting once again played a factor. However, it stayed consistent throughout the day for a fair race.

"This is pretty spread out," he said. "We are looking at one second for a top 10. Usually, it isn't that spread out."

Other Canadian results included Erik Guay (Mont-Tremblant, Que.) in 21st, Louis-Pierre Helie (Berthierville, Que.) in 22nd, Calgary's Jan Hudec in 35th and Toronto's Tyler Nella in 41st.

The weekend wraps up today with the men's super G.

CAL-SPORTS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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