Osborne-Paradis wins Val Gardena downhill

By Mark Meadows

VAL GARDENA, Italy (Reuters) - Canada's Manuel Osborne-Paradis caused a minor surprise when he triumphed in the men's World Cup Saslong Classic downhill on Saturday.

The 25-year-old, who won the Super-G at Lake Louise last month, set a time of two minutes 1.27 seconds to outshine some bigger names on a challenging course with difficult snow conditions.

Austria's Mario Scheiber did well to finish second despite starting later than the leading contenders while Ambrosi Hoffmann of Switzerland and France's Johan Clarey tied for third spot.

Osborne-Paradis had picked up just one win in five previous World Cup seasons and his two victories so far this year have set him up nicely for the Winter Olympics on home snow in February.

The Canadian, whose team has been decimated by recent injuries, is a member of the Whistler club where the Alpine skiing at the Vancouver Games will take place.

"I didn't actually think I'd be at this press conference following my run," said Osborne-Paradis, who made an early mistake but recovered for the infamous Ciaslat section.

"I was lucky to get away with what I did. It was easier for me to watch from the bottom except when Scheiber gave me a heart attack."

Several skiers struggled with their line on the tight turns in the Italian Dolomites with Scheiber blaming windy conditions for the troubles of others.

"It was a big surprise to get second. I think conditions were fair for me," the Austrian said.

Last year's winner Michael Walchhofer was fifth, American Bode Miller ninth and Friday's super-G champion Aksel Lund Svindal 17th.

Italian hopes of a home victory were hit by Werner Heel pulling out because of a knee injury suffered in Friday's super-G, which reports said could keep him out for around 20 days.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)