It was a double podium day for Canada at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships as Erik Guay was crowned world champion and Manuel Osborne-Paradis claimed bronze in the men’s super-G.
Starting from the 14th spot, Guay clocked a time of 1 minute 25.38 seconds down the St. Moritz course, putting him in the lead by nearly half a second over Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud (1:25.83), who is the reigning Olympic super-G champion. Guay then watched from the leader’s box as no one came close to his time, until Osborne-Paradis wearing bib number 26 crossed the finish line in 1:25.89, putting him just 0.06 back of Jansrud and into bronze medal position. It is the first time Canada has put two men on the same podium at the alpine skiing world championships. Canada’s only other shared podium was in the women’s downhill in 1982 when Gerry Sorensen won gold while Laurie Graham took silver.
“It’s incredible,” Guay said after the race. “With the whole history with all of my injuries and even the crash last week in Garmisch, it’s just amazing to be standing here as a World Champion. I’m having a hard time finding words to express what this means and how I feel. To be on the podium today with two of my good friends Manny and Kjetil makes it even better.”
“I made a big mistake in the middle and I knew if I wasn’t perfect the rest of the way down that I had no chance,” said Osborne-Paradis. “But that’s the great thing with racing, you never know until you cross the line. Erik called me just before I raced and said ‘Don’t think, just go’, which is what I did and it worked.”
Both men had gone into St. Moritz with some confidence, but were under the radar when it came to being pre-race favourites. Guay had four top-10s this season, including a bronze in the Val Gardena super-G in mid-December, and he’d won downhill bronze on this course at last year’s World Cup Finals. But as he noted, he’d also crashed in his last World Cup race, a downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Osborne-Paradis had finished sixth in that downhill two weeks ago, his first World Cup top-10 since March 2016. His last World Cup podium was the year before that.
This is the second world title of Guay’s career, following his downhill victory in 2011. He is now the fourth man to ever win world titles in both speed events, following Pirmin Zurbriggen, Hermann Maier and Bode Miller. It is just the third time that Canada has had a men’s alpine world champion. John Kucera was the first with his downhill gold in 2009. The closest Osborne-Paradis had ever come to a world championship podium was a ninth place finish in the downhill way back in 2007.
At 35, Guay becomes the oldest alpine skiing world champion of all-time, taking the record from Austrian Hannes Reichelt who was 34 when he won the super-G in 2015. For Osborne-Paradis, the bronze medal is a sweet present for his 33rd birthday, which was also on Wednesday. He was serenaded by the crowd in the finish area.