Despite strong performances on a demanding course, Canadian downhill skiers including Invermere’s Ben Thomsen and Manny Osborne-Paradis were kept off the podium in the Winter Olympic downhill skiing event on Sunday, Febraury 9th
“Today was a pretty tough day,” said Ben, who finished 19th in the race, which aired at midnight on Saturday in Invermere. “I couldn’t really sleep that much last night and just had a lot of energy and excitement to start the day. When I started going, there was some pressures and nervousness and then as I got closer to the start it really kind of built up, but I was happy with my run and that I wasn’t focused on anything else but the task at hand.”
Ben had high hopes after a last-minute qualification for the Games, as he’d placed second in a World Cup race on the same course in 2012. Despite being unable to match his previous success, it was an experience he said he’ll never forget.
“Not the result I was looking for but I gave it my everything,” wrote Ben after the race on his Facebook page. “Such an amazing experience – thank you all! Congrats to Mayer, Innerhofer and Jansrud for their great runs!”
Part-time Invermere resident Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who finished 25th, said he was more or less happy with his run.
“I mean there were little mistakes but nothing big; I was just nowhere near fast, so not really sure what happened,” he said. He’ll have another chance to compete, along with teammates Erik Guay and Jan Hudec, in the super-G event on Sunday, February 16th.
The race took place at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, which is hosting all
alpine skiing disciplines: downhill, combined (downhill and slalom), giant slalom and the super giant slalom
(super G). The steep 3,495-metre course, which 10 racers were unable to finish in training, was described as “very treacherous” by five-time U.S. Olympic medallist Bode Miller, who warned that the icy track could easily kill a skier in a crash.
All slopes were developed by Bernard Russi, a world-renowned ski architect from the International Ski Federation (FIS). In what’s become a popular Internet video in recent days, BBC commentator and former Winter Olympic skier Graham Bell provided a terror-stricken narration of a run on the downhill course (see it at goo.gl/EF4zal ).
Canada has now gone 20 years without a medal in the downhill event, and much of the national pressure fell on Erik Guay, who finished 10th. Ben will not compete in any other alpine skiing events and is now on his way home.