Canada's Erik Guay plans to ski in Olympics despite back injury

Erik Guay plans to ski for Canada at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, despite a back injury, according to a release from Alpine Canada.

Guay, a two-time world champion and three-time Olympian, will miss the upcoming alpine World Cup events in Kitzbuhel, Austria and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany as he continues his recovery.

The 36-year-old Montreal native revealed that he had an annular rupture at his L4 verterbra after undergoing an MRI in December following the alpine World Cup event in Val Gardena, Italy. He told CBC Sports after that he “should have stayed at home” to deal with ongoing back issues.

Canada’s ski team is expected to be announced on Jan. 29.

Before that, two of the biggest races on the World Cup downhill circuit are on tap, with Guay’s teammate, Manuel Osborne-Paradis looking to turn around what has been a disappointing season so far.

He sits 53rd overall in World Cup standings. He’s ranked 16th in the downhill and, depending on Guay’s status for the Olympics, will probably be Canada’s top medal hope on the men’s side.

Famed Kitzbuehel race this weekend

But with treacherous Kitzbuehel to be tamed on the weekend and Garmisch Partenkirchen coming up next week, Osborne-Paradis isn’t focused on the Olympics quite yet.

“These are the most important races of our season,” Osborne-Paradis said Tuesday. “It’s the core part of the year and that takes away from any Olympic thoughts right now.

“There’s no point in dwelling on something that’s long-term.”

The North Vancouver, B.C., native considers Kitzbuehel in Austria, where skiers have raced since the 1930s, to be the marquee event of the World Cup circuit. The famed Streif (stripe) slope for the men’s downhill race, with its sharp twists, long jumps and steep drops tends to separate the best from the pretenders.

Training runs began Tuesday for three races this weekend — a super-giant slalom Friday, the downhill Saturday and a slalom Sunday.

Skiers will move on to Garmisch in Germany for another downhill and super-G on Jan. 27-28.

Osborne-Paradis said the work he puts in trying to master the World Cup courses will be ideal preparation for South Korea, where he described the downhill run as only “intermediate.”

“But you still have the race against the best skiers in the world,” he added.

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