With treacherous Kitzbuehel to be tamed on the weekend and Garmisch Partenkirchen coming up next week, Manuel Osborne-Paradis isn’t focused on the 2018 Olympics quite yet.
Two of the toughest tests of the World Cup alpine skiing season are on tap and Osborne-Paradis will have enough on his plate with that without worrying about the Winter Games next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“These are the most important races of our season,” Osborne-Paradis said Tuesday. “It’s the core part of the year and that takes away from any Olympic thoughts right now.
“There’s no point in dwelling on something that’s long-term.”
The North Vancouver, B.C., native considers Kitzbuehel in Austria, where skiers have raced since the 1930s, to be the marquee event of the World Cup circuit. The famed Streif (stripe) slope for the men’s downhill race, with its sharp twists, long jumps and steep drops tends to separate the best from the pretenders.
Training runs began Tuesday for three races this weekend _ a super-giant slalom Friday, the downhill Saturday and a slalom Sunday.
Skiers will move on to Garmisch in Germany for another downhill and super-G on Jan. 27-28.
Osborne-Paradis said the work he puts in trying to master the World Cup courses will be ideal preparation for South Korea, where he described the downhill run as only “intermediate.”
“But you still have the race against the best skiers in the world,” he added.
With world champion Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., battling back injuries, Osborne-Paradis has been Canada’s top skier on the men’s circuit this season. But even he has struggled to put two good runs together after taking a bronze medal in the super-G at last year’s world championships.
Osborne-Paradis sits 53rd overall in World Cup standings. He’s ranked 16th in the downhill and would probably be Canada’s top medal hope on the men’s side except that Guay has not written off competing at the Games quite yet.
An Alpine Canada release Tuesday said Guay, 35, who took gold and silver at the 2017 world championships, will sit out the next two race weekends but may be able to compete in Pyeongchang. Guay hasn’t raced since suffering a back injury Dec. 16 at Val Gardena, Italy.
He had dealt with a different back injury in pre-season training but has been skiing and has had daily gym workouts.
The alpine team is to be announced Jan. 29.