Sochi 2014: Three alpine skiers nominated to Canada's Olympic team
Manuel Osborne-Paradis (right), is announced to the Canadian alpine speed team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Jan. 8, 2014. Erik Guay and Jan Hudec, who were also named, could not attend because the weather cancelled their flights. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 8, 2014 5:37PM EST
TORONTO -- Canadian skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis learned how it felt to compete on the sport's biggest stage during his Olympic debut in Turin eight years ago.
He learned about pressure and expectations at the 2010 Games in his hometown of Vancouver.
His next mission is to build on that experience at his next Olympic appearance in Sochi, where he plans to ride the momentum from the team's strong start to the season.
"In Vancouver there was a lot of prep but not very directed prep," he said Wednesday. "I think this year we've really fixed all the bugs and the kinks that we felt in Vancouver. Obviously there's not as much pressure, not being in Canada and being as far away (from) Canada as pretty much possible.
"I think the nerves are a lot more settled and hopefully we're able to direct the energy down the hill and not towards the media."
The veteran skier will anchor the men's alpine team at the Games along with Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., and Calgary's Jan Hudec. The three "Canadian Cowboys" were officially nominated to the Sochi 2014 Olympic team Wednesday.
Some of their teammates still have a chance to join them in Sochi. The qualification window is open until Jan. 26 and the roster is expected to be finalized the next day.
Guay had the top Canadian result at the Vancouver Games, finishing fifth in the downhill and the super-G. Osborne-Paradis was 17th in the downhill and didn't finish the super-G while Hudec didn't crack the top 20 in either discipline.
"We've learned from it and obviously you figure out how you felt there and how you're going to feel in Sochi," Osborne-Paradis said. "You try to make a plan around that. But I can't foresee the pressure being at that peak as it was in Vancouver before the downhill."
The trio has recorded some impressive results on the World Cup circuit last month. Osborne-Paradis was fourth in the downhill at Beaver Creek, Hudec won silver in Italy and Guay took gold and bronze.
Hudec and Guay were unable to attend Wednesday's news conference at Casa Loma due to travel issues, so Osborne-Paradis was the lone skier to be presented with his Olympic jacket. Jeffrey Frisch of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was also on hand along with national teammates Morgan and Conrad Pridy of Whistler, B.C.
The Canadian men's team traditionally does well at the January stops on the World Cup circuit. That bodes well for peak performance at the Feb. 7-23 Winter Games.
"To have momentum coming now really shows that our summer plan was done properly and that we're really ready to compete in Sochi," Osborne-Paradis said. "Obviously we have a month, we have four more races out of the 16 races that we have in a year to keep building momentum to the Olympics.
"It has been a good break, we just had a week at home and to be able to go into this next group of World Cups prior to the Olympics with a good attitude and a really good feeling on snow, you really can't ask for much more."
Osborne-Paradis has three career World Cup victories on his resume and has reached the podium on nine occasions overall. He was out of action for nearly two years after he tore a knee ligament and broke his leg in a January 2011 crash.
His confidence returned last season and he feels ready for big things as his 30th birthday approaches.
"The experience on courses, the experience with the pressure, it's really something that I think you're able to grasp and to use to your advantage more," he said. "When you're younger, it's harder. There are guys for sure that get medals when they're 20, 21 years old. But in ski racing, especially in speed, it's so much about knowing yourself and adapting as you go down.
"Just the experience that we have from Olympics to world championships to World Cups, time on snow is time when you're learning."
Guay won the world downhill title in 2011 and recently picked up his 21st career World Cup medal to break Steve Podborski's Canadian record. Hudec won world silver in 2007 and has two career World Cup victories and five podiums over his career.
It has been two decades since Canada last won an Olympic men's alpine ski medal. Ed Podivinsky was the last to do so, taking downhill bronze at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer.