Salem Radio Network News Thursday, July 7, 2022

Sports

Alpine skiing-Last rodeo for Canadian Cowboys as Osborne-Pardis skies off into sunset

By Steve Keating

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (Reuters) – Manny Osborne-Paradis, the last of the Canadian Cowboys, skied off into the sunset on Saturday, leaving the country’s next generation of World Cup downhillers to blaze their own trail.

Forged from the mould of the Crazy Canucks, Osborne-Paradis officially retired in October 2020, but when COVID-19 kept the World Cup from staging races at Lake Louise last year was never given the chance to take a final bow.

Wearing a wrangler’s chaps, white cowboy hat and waving a Canadian flag, Osborne-Paradis got his goodbye on Saturday when he was accorded a ceremonial trip down the track that gave him his first World Cup podium and one of three career wins.

It also represented the symbolic end to one of the great eras of Canadian alpine skiing, passing the torch to a new group eager to leave their mark.

“The Original Six, Johnny (Kucera) Erik (Guay), myself, Francois (Bourque), Mike (Janyk) and Jan (Hudec), it’s like it’s totally the end of an era,” smiled Osborne-Paradis. “Yeah, it’s done.

“It’s not about us now. They have to build up their own stories.”

The Crazy Canucks and Canadian Cowboys captured the imagination of ski fans around the world for a fearless, take-no-prisoners, go for broke style that became their trademark.

No skier symbolized those qualities more than Osborne-Paradis, who reached the World Cup podium 11 times and won a bronze in the super-G at the 2017 world championships, but paid the price for that success with a run of gruesome crashes.

The last time Osborne-Paradis had skied the Lake Louise layout was a 2018 training run that ended in a horrific spill and him being helicoptered off the mountain.

His mangled left leg was put back together with 13 screws, bone cement and a hip bone taken from a cadaver.

“The thing that I didn’t think would be the most important thing, but it was, was going through the finish line one more time,” said Osborne-Paradis. “That was like a good closing chapter because the last time I took a helicopter.”

The next generation of Canadian downhillers has a legacy to live up to and long way to go.

In Saturday’s downhill won by Austrian Matthias Mayer only James Crawford managed to crack the top 30 coming from a 52nd start number to finish 24th.

Brodie Seger was 31st and Jeffrey Read, the son of Crazy Canuck Ken Read, 39th.

“I started with this group when a couple of the Cowboys were still just finishing up. Manny was still their, Erik was still there,” said Kucera, the Cowboy turned Canadian downhill coach. “These guys were just kind of coming into the World Cup as these guys were heading out.

“You have the Crazy Canucks, it started there and the Canadian Cowboys, Canada just seems to have these generational groups that cycle through this is another one.

“But it has to happen organically. You can’t just go, ‘You guys are dubbed this or that.'”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Lake Louise; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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