Crash test Chamonix

30th January 2011, by Chris Gill

(c) Audi FIS Alpine World Cup - pic is Garmisch Partenkirchen.

(c) Audi FIS Alpine World Cup - pic is Garmisch Partenkirchen.

Is it Chamonix, or the firm piste conditions of recent weeks taking their toll? But the latest World Cup downhill racing seems to have been jinxed by a few crashes – the worst resulting in Canada’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis being ruled out for the rest of the season.

Osborne-Paradis suffered a fractured fibula and damaged knee ligaments in a heavy crash in Saturday’s Kandahar men’s downhill race in Les Houches.

The Canadian was setting a cracking pace on the Verte course when a ski caught in the snow and he lost control, landing on his back and hitting the safety netting. He was airlifted to hospital.

Earlier, Austrian Georg Streitberger limped to the finish after a crash part way down the course. He was later found to have broken a shin bone. And Mario Scheiber, also of Austria, fractured his collarbone in a training crash on Thursday. He also sustained facial injuries.

The Verte course is not known among the World Cup venues as being particularly difficult, compared with the classics, although it does have a couple of tricky jumps.

But it comes hot on the heels of Kitzbühel and just days away from the World Championships. What’s more, snow conditions have been variable right across the Alps in recent weeks, which all adds to the technical difficulties the racers face.

Meanwhile the race went on ... with Didier Cuche proving himself the master once again. Cuche took first position, edging 21 year-old Dominik Paris of Italy into second place. Klaus Kröll took third and Michael Walchhofer fifth. It was Cuche’s first win on the Houches course, having finished second there in 2008.

Over in Italy, it was not such a great weekend for the women’s events either: snowfall and thick fog forced the organizers to cancel the downhill and super-combined races. The women’s circuit now has four races to make up because earlier giant slalom and slalom races were postponed due to warm weather in Maribor, Slovenia.

All the racers are now looking ahead to the World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany 8-20 February, two weeks away.

If you missed Cuche’s winning run, here it is again ...



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