Alpine Training Camp Finally Over … Let the Surfing Begin
Canadian downhill ace Manuel Osborne-Paradis is looking forward to some surfing in Maui.
|REUTERS FILE PHOTO|
|Seems likely Manuel Osborne-Paradis is a pretty good surfer.|
Teammate Erik Guay can’t wait to spend more time with his newborn daughter.
And world downhill champion John Kucera’s plan is to just chill out, away from snow and the telephone. Now, they’re finally going to get that chance.
The Canadian alpine skiers and their teammates postponed any holiday plans to do some serious training for the last two weeks on the same courses in Whistler where Olympic gold will be at stake in less than a year’s time.
For the men’s team, it meant a chance to race on the Dave Murray Olympic Men’s Downhill on a layout designed by the same International Ski Federation (FIS) official who will set the course for the 2010 Winter Games.
“Something like this is huge,” said Kucera, surprise winner on the men’s world championships downhill in February. “Not many athletes get to compete on home soil in the Olympics, but it’s incredible to have the opportunity to train on the hill and get miles on the track that you’re going to be racing on … Those little of advantages in our sport, that tenth of a second could be the difference between fifth and first.”
Osborne-Paradis, who won the first World Cup race of his career on a downhill course in Kvitfjell, Norway, that’s similar to the terrain in Whistler, also definitely believes that familiarity can breed success, although it doesn’t guarantee it.
“It’s definitely going to be the best skier that wins, but now we can show up to the first training run with a little bit more of an edge and have all four guys who will be competing definitely clearly in charge and all four guys that will be able to podium and win at the Olympics,” he said..
“Whereas if we hadn’t had training, maybe there would be some people who don’t come into it with as much confidence.”
It was the second camp of the year for the men there this season and the third straight year Alpine Canada has staged special training for the national team at the Olympic site.
Another big advantage about the extra training is that the ski technicians not only had a lot of time to try out different skis in different conditions, but they got a head start on ski testing for the start of the next World Cup season.
“We’re just coming off the race mode so we’re able to test the best possible variety of skis right now,” said Guay, whose daughter Logann Elizabeth was born in January.
Whistler is notorious for its fickle weather conditions, something that Kucera believes could play into Canada’s hands because they’ve had a chance to experience it all in their past three years of training there.
“I think honestly for us one of the better things that could happen is the weather is bad here because we do have so much experience running in those conditions.”