Vancouver (AFP) -
Downhill skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis celebrated his 26th birthday on Monday and hoped to celebrate in style at the weekend by lifting Canada's homeground Olympic Games gold medal curse.
Canada has staged the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, but failed to toast a gold medal winner in either edition.
The country's much-vaunted ice hockey team is tipped to take gold at the 2010 Games which start on Friday, but the final of their event is not until February 28, the last day of the 16-day showpiece.
Osborne-Paradis, with two recent wins on the World Cup circuit, may just beat them to it in Saturday's downhill.
But he is desperate to play down the hype.
"The difference between Turin in 2006 and now is that we have four guys here that could all win gold," said Osborne-Paradis in reference to teammates Jan Hudec, Erik Guay and Robbie Dixon.
Osborne-Paradis may have an edge having grown up in Whistler where the alpine skiing events will be staged at the 2010 Games.
"You put a mountain right beside an ocean and rainforest and you’re going to get a lot of different conditions," Osborne-Paradis told the Vancouver Sun newspaper, adding that being able to push through the fog with visibility limited to two gates ahead could be key.
"It’s not to say (that gold medal rivals) Didier Cuche, Michael Walchhofer or Carlo Janka aren’t going to do that as well. They’re great skiers. It’s just going to be little bit easier for us - and it’s going to ease the pressure a little bit."