Matthias Mayer beats Austrian teammate to win season-opening downhill at Lake Louise

Matthias Mayer sped down the course in one minute 47.74 seconds to win the season-opening World Cup men's downhill by 23-100ths of a second over Austrian teammate Vincent Kreichmayr on Saturday in Lake Louise, Alta. Switzerland's Beat Feuz was third.

Crawford top Canadian in 24th; Osborne-Paradis carries Canadian flag on farewell run

Matthias Mayer, left, and Austrian teammate Vincent Kriechmayr, right finished 1-2 in the season-opening men's World Cup downhill on Saturday at Lake Louise, Alta. (Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Austria's Matthias Mayer sped down the course in one minute 47.74 seconds to win the season-opening World Cup men's downhill Saturday in Lake Louise, Alta.

Mayer finished 23-100ths of a second ahead of fellow Austrian Vincent Kreichmayr while Switzerland's Beat Feuz was third of 61 finishers in 1:48.09.

Feuz was the overall leader in men's downhill last season, followed by Mayer.

"Of course, I'm very satisfied," Mayer said. "It's the first race of the season. I know that I had some good work in summer. Not only me. Also, Vincent had good work this summer. As a team, we are in very good shape."

Saturday's race served as the season opener after a downhill scheduled for Friday was cancelled because of too much snow.

WATCH | Mayer wins season-opening World Cup men's downhill at Lake Louise:

Matthias Mayer wins men's downhill at Lake Louise

6 months ago
Duration 2:28
Austria's Matthias Mayer wins the season-opening World Cup men's downhill event in one minute 47.74 seconds.

Toronto's Jack Crawford was top Canadian in 24th, posting a time of 1:49.72, 1.98 seconds behind Mayer. Teammates Brodie Seger (1:50.08) of North Vancouver, B.C., and Calgary's Jeff Read (1:50.36) finished inside the top 40 in 31st and 39th, respectively.

"It was definitely a hard day," Crawford said. "The light was flat and the new snow made it a little bit inconsistent, so starting later in the pack, there were some pretty big holes. I managed to watch a few guys who were starting just ahead of me, which helped me create a plan on the fly to deal with all of that changing environment and the holes down the course.

"I'm happy with today with how the conditions were. I was definitely hoping for better. You always are, but with how I skied today, I'm quite satisfied with the overall result."

Read led the team with a 46th-place performance at Lake Louise on Nov. 30, 2019 before last year's event was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rounding out the Canadian contingent Saturday was Broderick Thompson of North Vancouver in 49th (1:51.12), Ben Thomsen of Invermere, B.C., in 54th (1:51.53) and Cam Alexander of North Vancouver in 58th (1:52.73).

Saturday's race marked Alexander's return to World Cup competition from a knee injury sustained in last year's opening downhill in Val-d'Isère, France.

Cam Alexander of North Vancouver, B.C., in 47th and 48th, respectively, while Toronto's Jack Crawford placed 57th.

"This group is coming of age in the speed events, and in talking to the foreign coaches that have seen them on the glaciers or in training, people are noticing," Phil McNichol, in his second season as Alpine high performance director with Alpine Canada, told CBC Sports this week. "They are quite competitive amongst themselves and you're going to see some of their highlights from last year more consistently and moving from those personal bests."

11 World Cup podiums over 13 years

Before Saturday's race, North Vancouver-born Manny Osborne-Paradis took a farewell run down the course carrying a Canadian flag and dressed as a Canadian Cowboy.

The 37-year-old left the sport in October 2020 after 13 years of World Cup racing and 11 medal podium finishes. In 2006 at Lake Louise, a 22-year-old Osborne-Paradis finished second in the downhill at Lake Louise.

WATCH | Osborne-Paradis takes farewell run at Lake Louise:

Manny Osborne-Paradis takes farewell run at Lake Louise

6 months ago
Duration 1:40
North Vancouver-born Manny Osborne-Paradis takes a farewell run down the course carrying a Canadian flag and dressed as a Canadian Cowboy. The 37-year-old left the sport in October 2020 after 13 years of World Cup racing and 11 medal podium finishes.
Twelve years later, his career ended on the same course when Osborne-Paradis hit soft snow during a 2018 training run and catapulted head over heels into a safety net, snapping his tibia (shin bone) and fibula (calf bone).

Sunday's super-G caps the men's World Cup event at the Banff National Park ski resort.

WATCH | Osborne-Paradis discusses his decision to retire:

Manny Osborne-Paradis' storied skiing career comes to an end

2 years ago
Duration 7:57
CBC Sports' Scott Russell spoke to Manny Osborne-Paradis about his skiing career, and his decision to retire from the sport.

The women arrive in Alberta next week for two downhills and a super-G at Lake Louise.

The Canadian squad will be led by veteran skier Marie-Michèle Gagnon, who is coming off a stellar speed campaign. The 32-year-old from Lac-Etchemin, Que., ended a five-year podium drought last January when she won super-G bronze in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and went on to place sixth at worlds in super-G.

Gagnon, who ranked 11th in the world in super-G last season and 16th in downhill, had solid workouts through the summer and is fresh off a training cycle in Copper Mountain in Colorado. "She should come into [Lake Louise] fit and ready," McNichol said.

Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., returns to the slopes after a year away from the World Cup circuit that included racing at the University of Utah and earning her degree in bio medical engineering.

Remme reached her first World Cup podium in February 2019 with a silver medal performance in alpine combined at Crans-Montana, Switzerland, and was fifth at worlds in the same event in Åre, Sweden.

Later that year, the 25-year-old placed 36th at Lake Louise in downhill and super-G.

Remme competed last weekend in Levi, Finland but didn't qualifying for the second run in slalom on consecutive days.

Canada's Roni Remme, competing on the World Cup circuit after a season's absence, placed 36th in the downhill and super-G at Lake Louise in 2019. (Instagram/ronniremme)

With files from CBC Sports

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