Alpine skiers out to end 20-year Olympic medal drought

Photo: Three generations of alpine skiers (L-R: Steve Podborski, Ed Podivinsky, Manuel Osborne-Paradis)

The last Canadian to win an Olympic medal in alpine skiing is Ed Podivinsky. Nearly 20-years ago he climbed the podium in Lillehammer, Norway to take the bronze medal in the downhill.

On Wednesday, Podivinsky was in Toronto to help present the first three qualified alpine skiers for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

At Toronto’s picturesque Casa Loma, all-time Canadian World Cup podium record holder Erik Guay, along with Jan Hudec and Manuel Osborne-Paradis – all members of the famed “Canadian Cowboys” – were officially nominated to Team Canada for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Read: Three Cowboys lead Canada to Sochi

Due to flight cancellations caused by frigid weather that has hit central and eastern Canada, Guay and Hudec were unable to receive their exclusive nomination jackets. Osborne-Paradis made it.

Podivinsky believes momentum is on Canada’s side to end the 20-year medal drought in alpine skiing.

“Confidence,” the Olympic medallist said, “is needed going into the Olympics.”  When it comes to the Cowboys, Podivinsky is certain they “have shown what it takes to be on the podium.”

Guay – heading to his third Olympics – broke a Canadian World Cup record on December 29, 2013 by winning bronze in the downhill at Bormio in Italy. It was his 21st time on the World Cup podium.

Eight days earlier, Guay ruled the downhill in Italy with a gold at Val Gardena. That run tied him with Sochi 2014 Chef de Mission Steve Podborski as the most decorated World Cup alpine skier in Canadian history.

At that same location Hudec won silver in the Super giant slalom. Sochi will mark his second Olympic Winter Games.

For Paradis, it’s his third time to the Olympics. He has nine World Cup medals. On hand to receive his nomination jacket, he shook hands with Podivinski and Podborski, the 1980 downhill bronze medallist.

“Being named to the team is a big part of any athlete’s career,” Podborski said. “It really is a high point because you realize that you’re an Olympian and you’re never not one after that.”

A member of the “Crazy Canucks” of the 1970s and 80s, Podborski is happy to see his and his teammates records fall to the Cowboys.

“In Canadian sport, we have to help each other,” the Chef de Mission concluded.

Qualification window remains open through to January 26 for additional Canadian representation in alpine downhill and Super-G competition in Sochi.

The women’s alpine ski nominations will take place in Québec City on January 16.

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