Canadian World Cup ski team filled with promise | Skiing | CBC Sports

SkiingCanadian World Cup ski team filled with promise

Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2012 | 08:42 PM

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Canada's Manuel Osborne-Paradis races down the hill during the second men's downhill training run in Lake Louise, Alta. last month. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press) Canada's Manuel Osborne-Paradis races down the hill during the second men's downhill training run in Lake Louise, Alta. last month. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

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With the World Cup season now well underway, a few things have become apparent. The Canadian men's speed team is looking a lot deeper with Manuel Osborne-Paradis and John Kucera returning from injuries, and Canada's women's technical team has shown incredible promise so far.
With the World Cup season now well underway, a few things have become apparent. 

1. The Norwegian men are on fire!

Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud may be a small team but they're big on talent. Svindal leads the World Cup points race and I would bet he'll run away with it this season. 

Ted Ligety of the U.S. has picked up his super-G to back up his untouchable giant slalom, which will give him a shot to compete for the title.  
 
Still, I'd put my money on Svindal, the Norwegian Viking.

2. Maze may take overall title from Vonn in 2013

Lindsey Vonn has won the overall title four out of the last five years, only missing out to Maria Hoefl-Riesch in 2011. Regardless of who ends up with the overall title, I think the whole ski community hopes for a tight race.  

3. Canada's men's speed team looking deeper, healthier 

Manny Osborne-Paradis has shown solid improvements and is itching to be back in the mix as he's now consistently achieving top 30 results. I have no doubt he'll be mixing it up in the top 15 very soon. 

John Kucera conquered the super-G in Lake Louise - where he first injured his leg three years ago - and came away with a 14th place finish this season. He had everyone blown away by both his physical and mental abilities.  

Plus, the smile on his face afterwards was something that could warm even the coldest of hearts.

The men's speed team suffered a tough blow when they lost Robbie Dixon for the season with a tibia-fibula fracture. Luckily, teammates Erik Guay and Ben Thomsen are still strong and will be fun to watch as they settle into the season.

4. Canada has incredibly strong women's technical squad

With Britt Phelan notching her first World Cup points in Levi, Finland then following up that performance with more points in Aspen, Colo. she is rounding out Canada's slalom team quite nicely. 

Between Britt, Marie-Pier Prefontaine, Marie-Michele Gagnon, and Erin Mielzynski, this is a young team to be reckoned with.  

This technical squad is also showing promise in super-G with Gagnon's 28th-place finish in Lake Louise and 13th in St. Moritz. Prefontaine's strength is GS and it will only take time and confidence for her to transition into super-G.

Plus, on the speed side, lone athlete Larisa Yurkiw completed her return from injury as she had a career-best super-G result in Lake Louise. I see downhill world cup points in her near future.

5. Gagnon may be Canada's 1st all-round World Cup threat since Nancy Greene! 

In her first seven World Cup races of the season, Gagnon has scored points in every race across four disciplines. This isn't just impressive; this is rare for a Canadian athlete. This deserves celebrating and supporting moving forward. 

6. The new FIS ski regulations imposed haven't destroyed the sport

If anything, these changes towards straighter and longer skis may have made it safer while keeping it just as fast and fun to watch. This is a shock to all involved. I would venture to guess that even FIS was a bit surprised. 

Looking at the numbers, it's still too early to tell if the new skis - for GS in particular -- are safer. Early speculation says they are, but we'll see. 

Regardless, I do hope more attention will be given to the bindings and boot setups moving forward. This still seems to be the crux of many preventable injuries. 

So what does all this mean? I suppose not much at this point in the season, as there is a lot of racing left. However, it does mean that we're in for an exciting season of racing with many Canadians to cheer on!

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