Downhiller Osborne-Paradis breaks leg

Canadian skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis has suffered a broken left leg after crashing heavily during a World Cup downhill in the French Alps.

Canadian airlifted to hospital after crash, adding to growing injury list

Manuel Osborne-Paradis had felt he was tempting fate as one of the lucky Canadian skiers still healthy.

And his good fortune came crashing to an abrupt halt Saturday.

The 26-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C., is out for the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and breaking his fibula during a World Cup downhill in Chamonix, France.

It was just more bad news for a Canadian ski team that has suffered a slew of injuries this season.

"It's been lingering in the back of my head for a while, just knowing that I have gone this long without an injury," Osborne-Paradis said during a conference call from his hospital room in Geneva. "It was kind of like, 'What does it feel like?' Everybody else has experienced it — it was kind of the unknown of not having one.

"So now I get to be as fortunate as everybody else, I guess."

Osborne-Paradis was in contention for a potential podium finish, just 0.04 seconds off the pace, when he lost his balance after catching a ski and flew into the safety net along the Verte course.

His first question to a coach who rushed to his side to ask if he was OK: "Not if I wasn't close to leading," Osborne-Paradis told the coach.

"I knew I was having a great run. I was on the line I wanted to be on, I was doing everything I wanted to do correctly. Sometimes you catch an edge. It's the name of the game."

He was put in a sled and airlifted from the slope by helicopter and taken to a Geneva hospital.

"Will all the concussions that have been going on, as soon as I took off backwards I was thinking, 'Aw, man, here it goes. I'm going to wake up somewhere and not remember anything.'

"That is definitely the fastest I've gone through some netting before. It hurt a lot, my ribs are sore and I'm having a hard time breathing right now, but all in all, I'm still alive I guess."

Osborne-Paradis will be assessed by Canadian doctors when he returns home, and then undergo surgery when the swelling goes down in a week or two.

Switzerland's Didier Cuche won Saturday's race, which was interrupted for about 30 minutes after Osborne-Paradis crashed.

Eric Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., finished tied for 19th.

"Our thoughts are with (Osborne-Paradis)," Guay said. "It's tough any time somebody goes down."

Osborne-Paradis's injury was the latest disappointment for a Canadian team that had lost several skiers already this season. Ottawa's Ryan Semple suffered a season-ending knee injury in Thursday's downhill training on the same hill, while Francois Bourque (knee), Jan Hudec (broken hand), Louis-Pierre Helie (concussion, knee), and Kelly McBroom (broken ankle) have all been sidelined with injuries.

"I don't think there's any real rhyme or reason why these accidents are happening," Osborne-Paradis said. "It's not like all of a sudden injuries are happening in downhill. They've been happening since the beginning of time with downhill."

Osborne-Paradis, who has nine podium finishes in his World Cup career, including three victories, said faster equipment and more challenging courses could be two culprits.

He said he would be contacting Hudec for advice. His Canadian teammate has undergone six knee surgeries.

Osborne-Paradis was taking Saturday's heartbreak in stride. He posted updates on his Twitter page throughout the day and pictures of himself in his hospital gown.

One tweet read: "New update. I have blown my acl. I broke my leg but my ribs just hurt. They are ok!!! Good news eh?"

"There's no point getting down on it," he said. "There's a lot of other things in life I can enjoy now that I'm not going to ski for the next little while. It's a liability from the business, it just is what it is.

"Just because I blew my knee and broke my leg today, it doesn't really mean it wasn't all that good of a day. . . the doctor brought me a pizza, I got a free helicopter ride. What did you guys do today? Did you get a free helicopter ride?"

Osborne-Paradis is the third men's World Cup skier to be injured in a crash this month. Austria's Mario Scheiber broke his right shoulder blade and fractured his sinuses during training this week, while Hans Grugger, also of Austria, needed emergency brain surgery after crashing in Kitzbuehel last week and is still in hospital.

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