Reigning world downhill champion Erik Guay was the fastest Canadian in downhill training for the second straight day at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup, while returning veterans Manuel Osborne-Paradis and John Kucera took another step forward on the comeback trail.
Guay, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., tied for sixth Thursday after finishing fourth on Wednesday. Ben Thomsen, of Invermere, B.C., had another solid run to secure the 17th-fastest time of the day while Jan Hudec, of Calgary, Alta., decided to take the day off to rest a sore knee.
Three-time World Cup winner Osborne-Paradis, of Vancouver, B.C., said he’s still getting his bearings as he prepares for his first race at the highest level since he was injured in January 2011 but saw signs of progress Thursday.
"It was good to push it a little more today," said Osborne-Paradis, who finished 45th in one minute, 54.65 seconds.
"We know how to win so we want to ski like we can win but our confidence isn’t large enough or grand enough to be able to do that, so it’s a tug-of-war contest right now — just get back in there. You just can’t get disappointed — it will come."
Kucera, the 2009 world downhill champion, hasn’t raced at the World Cup level since November 2009, when he was injured in the super-G in Lake Louise. He was 59th in the second downhill training run Thursday.
"I’d definitely like to be a little bit closer. Every day if I can put another little piece towards the puzzle hopefully I can kind of [sneak] my way into the top 30, which I would be really happy with," Kucera said. "The thing I think is really missing is the confidence to let the skis run, you know."
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal was the fastest man down the mountain Thursday, clocking a time of 1:51.43. Austrian duo Georg Streitberger (1:51.56) and Klaus Kroell (1:51.81) were second and third, respectively. The race was placed on hold for some time after Switzerland’s Daniel Albrecht crashed, suffering head and leg injuries.
Back from injury
Guay, who like Hudec is coming back from minor knee surgery in September, has looked solid in both training runs and is content with the way things are going this week. He clocked a time of 1:52.01 Thursday, while Thomsen crossed the line in 1:53.27.
"The time itself is slower than yesterday — I was very surprised to see that. I don’t know how to explain that," said Guay, who plans to review video of the Wiwaxy section of the track, where he feels he could be losing time.
"[There was] very minimal swelling [in my knee last night]. It was a little bit stiff and a little bit achey but nothing that wasn’t manageable. The therapists working on it got a lot of ice on it and it reacted well."
Dustin Cook, of Lac-Sainte-Marie, Que., didn’t take part in the first training run on Wednesday and was 49th on Thursday.
Of the other Canadians skiing Thursday, Jeffrey Frisch, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was 53rd and Whistler, B.C., brothers Morgan and Conrad Pridy were 70th and 74th, respectively. Frisch and Morgan Pridy were competing for the final Canadian spot in Saturday’s downhill — which Frisch now takes based on Thursday’s results.